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The Pros and Cons of Prenuptial Agreements

Ali Katz


Americans today are getting married later in life.  Currently, the average age of a first marriage is 27 for women and 29 for men -- an increase of four years for women and three years for men in just the last 25 years.

So it may not be so surprising that more well-established brides and grooms are considering prenuptial agreements to be part of the wedding process.  According to a 2013 survey of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 63% of attorneys surveyed said they have seen an increase in prenups over the past three years.

A recent Wall Street Journal article examined the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements in two differing essays written by female attorneys.  Arguing in favor of prenups, Pennsylvania attorney Cheryl Young writes that the realities of marriage -- that many end in divorce and, of those that don’t, all end in death -- dictate the need for prenups, especially for those couples with assets of their own or an expected inheritance.

Arguing against prenups, Massachusetts attorney Laurie Israel concedes that prenups do have their uses, particularly for couples marrying later in life with children from a previous marriage.  However, she calls prenups “unnecessary, overly broad and mean-spirited,” and says they harm the spouse with fewer assets who is likely to “contract away” his or her marital rights.

Whether you are for pre-nups or not, when you have an estate plan set up to provide for a lifetime of asset protection -- this goes beyond a typical revocable living trust plan -  you can avoid the need for prenuptial planning altogether.

The best way for this kind of planning to be set up is for a parent to set a trust up that leaves an inheritance (or makes a gift during life) to her child in a protected trust we call a lifetime asset protection trust. That trust, when set up right, can never be reached in the event of a divorce, or by any other creditors, ever.

We recognize that every couple and every marriage is different.  Whether you are being married for the first time or the fourth, we can help you provide for the financial security of all your loved ones with a Family Wealth Planning Session.  Contact a Personal Family Lawyer®for details.