October 3, 2011
If you’re thinking about having a prenup drawn up before you tie the knot in Sacramento County, you may want to find an attorney who focuses on estate planning, too. Perhaps surprisingly to some, a prenuptial agreement can be an important piece of estate planning documentation. Many couples in the Sacramento area see the importance of creating a binding prenup in order to protect their assets and plan for their future.
Today, blended families are far from unusual. During the newlywed planning phase, the couple needs to consider what happens to “yours, mine, and ours” as it relates to children they each have from previous, and their current, relationships. You may each have certain items or financial support that you want designated specifically for your own biological children, and a prenup is used to make these wishes known. Because California is a community property state , and it is very easy to turn assets into community property, a prenup may be essential to protecting the assets you bring to the marriage for your children.
This is also the case when older couples marry. They may each have their own grown children and grandchildren that they wish to provide for. Without a written prenuptial agreement, a surviving spouse will often become default heir to the other’s estate, allowing the spouse to do with it whatever he or she sees fit. It could be perfectly legal for the deceased spouse’s children to inherit nothing.
Working with a Sacramento prenup lawyer before exchanging vows can help to clarify each partner’s wishes, as well as to provide legal documentation. Simply discussing your preferences is not enough, either. To be binding, the prenuptial agreement must be in writing, and both spouses must sign it. In fact, it is necessary for each spouse to take the appropriate amount of time to read the entire document to ensure that he or she agrees with it and is not being pressured into signing something. In California the agreement must be reviewed and signed at least one week prior to the marriage.
A prenup that seems grossly unfair to one spouse or the other may not hold up in court, so this step is pretty important. Some states even require that each party is advised by his or her own prenup lawyer rather than sharing the same attorney. If one spouse omits information or outright lies about it in the prenup, that can also render it invalid.
While creating a prenuptial agreement may not be the most romantic way to start a marriage, it can be important from an estate planning point of view. It allows you to plan for the future and to designate your own heirs. Some people who skipped this step are now coming to prenup lawyers to request “post-nuptial agreements.” These documents work quite similarly to the prenuptial agreement but are simply done after the wedding is over. It’s best not to wait, but if you have, a Sacramento prenup lawyer can still get the ball rolling for you.
If you’re ready to get started with this process, we invite you to call our office at (916) 241-9661 and ask if you qualify for a free Peace of Mind Planning Session ($750 value).