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Prenuptial agreements: The estate planning tool for engaged couples

Whether you are getting married or are thinking about sitting down with an estate planning tool, there are a few estate planning documents couples throughout Kearny should consider using. Although many people regard prenuptial agreements as a tool for the rich and famous, they are a great estate planning tool for many couples.

People who have adult children from a previous relationship are finding that pre-nuptial agreements may help solve questions about support and division of property if marriage ends with death or divorce. Those who do not have written documents spelling out their specific wishes risk having a spouse who does not follow requests concerning the distribution of cash, property and valuables to family members.

Courts do not enforce verbal agreements, so a written pre-nuptial agreement is essential. The document must be agreed to and be signed by both parties. An attorney can be of assistance in helping both parties create an estate plan that they both agree with. The attorney can then prepare the necessary documents and assist with the legal procedures required to put it into force.

An agreement such as this can be invalidated in a court of law if it is demonstrated that one of the parties was pressured into signing the document. It is also required that both parties understand what they are agreeing to and that they have been honest in disclosing both assets and debts. Misrepresentation or non-truth can also invalidate this kind of agreement.

For these reasons, it is a good idea for both spouses to be represented each by their own lawyer during the process. Enough time should be allowed to prepare and review the agreement in advance of the marriage vows. If this is not possible, a post-nuptial agreement, prepared after the wedding, may be a better alternative.

Source: The Mercury, "Prenups may be a smart estate planning tool," 24 July 2011

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