Lately, you've been spending your days dreaming of the wedding bells you and the love of your life will be hearing in a few short months. You and your closest confidants have been shopping, planning, laughing and sharing as you prepare for your Pennsylvania wedding.
So many details have gone into the preparations, everything from what color flowers you'd like to see on the tables at your reception to how many guests you'll invite, where the ceremony will take place, and whether you'll opt for a traditional bride and groom dance song or surprise your attendees with something wild and crazy. In addition to wedding decor and post-ceremony celebrations, you and your intended have been discussing a more serious topic as well, namely, whether to sign a premarital contract.
If you're concerned with these things, you might want a prenup
There's no law saying you have to sign a premarital contract in order for your union to be valid. Entering a prenuptial agreement is an intensely personal decision, and every couple's reasons for doing so (or not) may be slightly different because no two relationships are exactly the same. Following are some of the top reasons often cited when those who signed prenups are asked what motives prompted their decisions:
- A prenuptial agreement is a tool many people use to determine how property will be distributed upon a spouse's death. In fact, some choose to include their prenuptial contracts in their overall estate planning processes.
- If you wish to retain separate ownership of a particular piece of property, assets or business interests in marriage, you can specify such in a premarital contract. (Not doing so means everything you own will be subject to the property laws of your state in divorce and/or after death.)
- Avoiding debt liability is another reason many engaged couples choose to draft prenuptial agreements. If your intended spouse still has a whopping college loan outstanding and you do not want to be responsible for the debt, you can include such stipulations in a prenup.
Perhaps, you already have children from another relationship. If you want your children to inherit certain property or assets (instead of your current spouse) you can put such wishes in writing. While it's possible to draw up your own agreement, any signed document must comply with state requirements to be legally enforceable. For this and many other reasons, most people choose to have professionals review proposed contracts before signing.
An attorney can also assist those who determine the need for a contract after their wedding has already taken place. This is known as a post-nuptial agreement and is also a means for setting the terms of property ownership and asset protection in marriage.