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Love, Trust, and Planning Ahead: A Guide to Prenuptial Agreements

Love, Trust, and Planning Ahead: A Guide to Prenuptial Agreements

February 14, 2024

Love, Trust, and Planning Ahead: A Guide to Prenuptial Agreements

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It used to be that many viewed a prenuptial agreement as a “hedge” when getting married--something that only people who really shouldn’t be getting married would do. Now, prenuptial agreements are receiving their due credit as a communication tool and as an important financial planning step for engaged couples.

People may not naturally equate romance with financial planning, but family law attorney Cassandra Koenig believes they should. Koenig’s law firm Aloha Divorce advises couples who want to clarify financial issues before, during, and potentially after marriage. She counsels that discussing finances and addressing the possibility of worst-case scenarios can help a couple bond. She has seen how such conversations help couples iron out all kinds of issues—both financial and otherwise since almost all aspects of our lives have a financial component. Communicating about saving, spending, and what each person would expect should a marriage fail can enhance trust and allay concerns by resolving ambiguity.  

In addition to discussing less emotional financial topics such as budgeting and who pays bills, Koenig recommends all couples draft a prenuptial agreement: “Alongside love letters and candlelit dinners, something as practical as a prenuptial agreement can strengthen a relationship and provide security for both partners,” she says. “Love is built on a foundation of trust that comes from open communication.”

To reduce any angst, Koenig warns against saving the prenuptial agreement as a “last task.” Waiting until the last minute could create major strife if people are not able to calmly communicate about financial issues and resolve any disagreements. Plus, a couple usually wants to focus on last-minute wedding planning tasks in the exciting weeks before a wedding. Treating a prenuptial agreement as a final pre-wedding task risks it not being handled properly.

Koenig offers this step-by-step guide for drafting a prenuptial agreement.

First Steps: Getting comfortable with the concept

Initiate the Conversation. Have an open and honest discussion about the need for the agreement. Discuss goals and expectations.

Consult with separate attorneys and engage counsel. It is crucial to have independent legal advice to ensure the agreement is fair and legally sound.

Second steps: The practical work

Prepare financial disclosures and draft the initial proposed agreement. Both parties should provide their attorneys with a complete and honest disclosure of their financial assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. One of the most significant benefits of a prenuptial agreement is the opportunity it provides to open up about your financial situation. This transparency promotes trust and builds a foundation of honesty.

Remember that you and your partner can customize your prenuptial agreement to reflect your specific circumstances. This flexibility allows you to address concerns that are relevant to your relationship, making it a positive, personalized tool instead of simply a cold legal document.

Final Steps: Finalizing the agreement

Negotiate the final terms of the agreement through your attorneys. In California, once you have a final agreement drafted, you then must wait at least seven (7) full days before you can sign the final draft with a notary. Different states may have different requirements.

Make copies of the signed prenuptial agreement and provide them to both parties' attorneys. Keep each of your copies in a secure location.

After the Wedding: Relax and Maintain Open Communication

Having clarified issues and resolved any financial agreements, you both should be able to relax now. Continue to have open and honest discussions about your finances and how they might affect your prenuptial agreement. You can always update your agreement, and Koenig recommends revisiting it as often as you feel is appropriate. The point of the agreement is to make life easier should a marriage fail, so if you do not keep the agreement updated, then it is of little use.

It's important to note that the timeline for drafting a prenuptial agreement and the terms it can include may vary based on individual circumstances, legal requirements in your jurisdiction, and the complexity of your financial situation. Consulting with experienced family law attorneys early in the process is essential to ensure the agreement is valid and provides the protection you both desire.

If you are considering a prenuptial agreement or have questions about the process, Koenig invites you to contact her by phone (858.764.2496) or email (cassandra@aloha-divorce.com). "A prenuptial agreement is a gift of security that can last a lifetime,” Koenig says. “It's a gesture of love and responsibility, and it can bring peace of mind to both partners.”

At Pacific Wealth Management, we are here to help you navigate the financial implications of any life event. Contact us to discuss how you can achieve your financial goals and to adjust appropriately when there is change.

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