Entering into a Prenup? 3 Legal Tips Before You Sign

When entering into a marriage, many people choose to enter into a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a contract which allows a couple to determine the property rights in their marriage. A prenup can be used to protect a party’s assets, protect a party from assuming the debts of another party, set the terms for how property will be distributed upon death, and many other things that protect a party’s assets before marriage.

A prenup is a serious agreement that contains a great deal of legal implications. Before you sign, you should make sure you know the meaning of every term you are agreeing to, as well as what would happen if those terms were violated. Before you sign a prenup, consider these three legal tips:

Both parties should get an attorney. A prenup is more complicated than most people think. The agreement does not simply state who gets what in case of a divorce or death. There are actually complex rules about what can and cannot be included in the prenuptial agreement. There are also several ways a prenuptial agreement can be invalidated after it is signed, for instance if one party was pressured into signing the agreement, or if one party did not read the agreement before signing. Because of these complexities, it is in your best interest to have an experienced family law attorney draft your agreement to ensure that is is legally binding. Some states do require each party to have their own independent counsel, but even if your state does not legally require it, consulting an experienced attorney is a good idea. With your own attorneys, each party can voice their opinions and concerns about the agreement so that it meets each party’s needs.

Take your time. A prenuptial agreement could be considered invalid if one party does not have enough time to read over all the terms of the agreement. If the agreement is presented to one of the parties right before the wedding, the prenup could be invalidated later if that party argues that they didn’t have sufficient time to read over and agree to the terms with their own attorney. To avoid the prenup becoming invalidated, make sure you allow ample time before the wedding for each party to review the agreement with independent counsel. At the very least, the agreement should be presented to both sides to review and request changes if they feel it is necessary.

You may want to videotape the execution. Video documentation is becoming an increasingly common tactic for executing legal agreements. If you have the prenup signing recorded on video, you can ensure that one party cannot later claim they signed the agreement under duress or fraud. Though it may sound excessive or unnecessary, having a videographer film the execution is a sure-fire way to make sure neither party was pressured into signing the prenuptial agreement, which is another way the agreement could be invalidated.