Prenuptial agreements are contracts entered into by persons who intend to marry one another in the near future. Such agreements establish which assets owned by either party will be separate or community property in the event of a divorce or upon death. They are especially common and useful when one or both of the parties has children from a prior marriage and want to keep certain assets separate for the children to inherit when the parent dies.
Recently, there has been a significant increase in the number of already-married couples who decide to execute postnuptial agreements in order to settle financial issues in the event they should ever divorce. Since one or both of them may be agreeing to give up certain spousal rights in exchange for other concessions, a court will closely examine the bargain to make sure it is fair.
Postnuptial agreements are useful when a couple is experiencing marital difficulties and seek to resolve contentious financial issues in advance of a potential divorce. Another situation involves couples who are attempting to reconcile and wish to resolve past financial disputes and thereby reestablish marital trust. There are also cases where a couple accelerates their wedding plans before finalizing a prenuptial agreement. After the honeymoon they take the necessary steps to formalize their financial understanding.
Even without any contract, whether prenuptial or postnuptial, a marriage itself has major legal consequences, such as invalidating portions of a prior will or trust which either spouse may have. If a person who has children or owns any significant assets is contemplating marriage or has recently married, he or she should consult an experienced attorney to review the potential financial and estate-planning consequences, and to consider the need for a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Bruce L. Woodbury is an attorney with the law firm of Jolley Urga Woodbury & Little. The firm has offices in Boulder City and Las Vegas. To contact Bruce, call him at (702) 293-3674 or (702) 699-7500, or visit his website at www.juww.com.