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Why enter a prenuptial agreement?

Wedding planning may include less romantic but important aspects for engaged couples in Texas. A prenuptial agreement, for example, allows couples to have an inventory of property that they possessed before their marriage and help protect assets when a marriage ends.

Prenuptial agreements (prenup) can address most any issues. However, these contracts cannot restrict child support or child custody and visitation.

Enforceable prenuptial agreements have to be based on a fair and complete disclosure of assets and be fair at the time it is enforced. Any duress upon a spouse during negotiating and executing a prenup can undermine the contract. Prenups signed immediately before the wedding ceremony are often suspect, and it is recommended that these documents should be executed months before the wedding.

A particularly attractive feature of a prenup is that it clearly specifies the property that each spouse brought into the marriage. Many times, property becomes commingled between the spouses during marriage, and it becomes difficult to determine what property is owned jointly or individually.

These agreements can also dictate that future income from a business or that any other assets obtained through a spouse's inheritance is not shared with the other spouse at the end of the marriage. An agreement can also address division of property of property that a spouse received before marriage.

Prenuptial agreements can help assure that a spouse is excluded from inheriting property or death benefits from their former spouse. A prenup can govern whether spousal support is paid.

These agreements may be especially important in second marriages and for couples who already have children. A prenup may help assure that children from an earlier marriage are protected, and a spouse who has less assets does not have to give them up, if they need medical care or move into a nursing home.

Other measures can help keep property separate. A revocable living trust may be used to direct property or income to other persons besides a spouse. Having separate bank accounts and keeping real estate under one spouse's name are also simple but effective methods.

Each spouse should have their own attorney advise them and review the prenup and take other measures to protect their property. An attorney can also assist spouses with protecting their property rights during a divorce.

Source: Bankrate.com, "Why engaged couples should sign a prenup," accessed on Sept. 5, 2016

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