Love, Relationships and Finance: Prenuptual Agreements pt. 3

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What, exactly, is the definition of property?

One thing not to do is rely on one of the many “how-to” CD-ROMs for creating your own prenuptial agreement. Computer programs, certain web sites and resource books are a good starting point for a discussion with your partner, but after you’ve both jotted down some notes, ask a good attorney to draft your agreement according to the laws of your state. Pre-nups made with a CD-ROM are too easily contested as in a court of law -- so, do-it-yourselfers: beware!

Before signing a pre-nup, each of you should consult a separate attorney to make sure that the final agreement works for each of you. This may seem awkward, but it allows you to express any remaining concerns privately, acts as a final protection against oversights, and can prevent confusion later on.

Are we required by law to have separate lawyers?

In most courts of law, property includes every thing from your old coin collection to your retirement funds. It also includes your car, your boat, your furniture, your jewelry, your house, any debts, patents, book or music royalties, intellectual property (such as novels and screen plays), artwork—you name it. Property basically includes everything you can think of, other than human beings.

What else does a pre-nup include?

It can include almost anything that does not violate public policy. Future debt, future stock options, future retirement benefits—all can be designated. There have been pre-nups that cover who will get the baseball season tickets and who will feed the dog.

Is there anything that can’t be put in a pre-nup?

Issues that touch on child custody and child sup port in a pre-nup will not be binding in court. Anything that appears to anticipate illegal actions (such as illegal gambling or even murder) are not enforceable, and the same goes for anything that binds one or the other partner to obligatory sexual duties. (Courts don’t want to enforce sexual duties, for obvious reasons.) Any agreement that would leave a spouse totally destitute or a ward of the state is also unenforceable.


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Monday, June 3, 2013 14:57