Why You Need a Prenuptial Agreement
The consequences of entering into a marriage without first consulting a New York prenup lawyer can be severe.
This is especially true if you are a high net worth or high income individual.
For high net worth and high income individuals, the preservation of assets and property, businesses and real estate is a serious consideration that may, in some cases, even affect the decision “Should I get married or not?”
A prenuptial agreement is the closest thing to “divorce insurance”. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, a prenuptial agreement can improve your romantic relationship and provide peace of mind. Ensuring that your pre-marital assets are protected prior to your marriage removes them from the conversation if there is ever a divorce.
You and your spouse-to-be can just sit back and enjoy your wedding planning, in other words.
Even individuals that have more modest income and assets can benefit from consulting a Long Island prenup lawyer. This is especially true if you own a home, have children from a first marriage, or don’t want to be subject to laws regarding spousal support upon divorce.
However, a prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” must be executed in exact compliance with New York law or it may be ineffective should the marriage later fail.
A Nassau County prenup lawyer is essential for the proper drafting, execution, and, if necessary, later litigation. We handle prenups in Queens County and Suffolk County as well. In fact, we can help you with a prenup throughout New York State. Once the agreement is drafted and approved, you can sign it before any notary in the State of New York
Under What Circumstances Are Prenuptial Agreements Beneficial?
A prenup is worth considering in a number of different circumstances.
1. You are high net worth.
As noted above, a prenup is worth considering in particular if you are a high net worth or high asset value individual. This scenario is largely the focus of the remainder of this post as it is the scenario most commonly associated with the idea of a prenuptial agreement—but it is not the only one.
2. You are a business owner.
If you are a business owner and, in particular, a business owner with customers, clients, or employees who depend on your specific management and oversight, a prenup is worth considering. It is useful to ensure the long-term viability of your business for purposes of your own income, to be sure—but also to ensure the livelihoods of your employees. If you have a family business, or partners, a prenup can make sure that your family members or business partners don’t become involved in your divorce litigation.
Your prospective spouse may be a wonderful person, but is he or she management material?
3. You have dependent children.
If you have dependent children from a prior marriage or relationship, a prenuptial agreement can not only help to protect their financial interests and needs, it can also ensure that you are able to comply with divorce or support orders already in force. Furthermore, you can protect your inheritance rights for your children, without claim from your new spouse.
4. You carry sizeable debt.
If one of you carries sizeable personal or business debt into the impending marriage, a prenuptial agreement can help to ensure, later, that marital property is not divided for the purpose of paying separate, pre-existing, non-marital debt.
- You are concerned about being responsible for spousal support.
Long Island Prenup Lawyers: Marital Property vs. Separate Property
Before two people can draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, they must be able to identify what property is considered marital, and what property is considered separate. Marital property includes all assets acquired throughout the duration of the marriage.
These assets include:
- Real estate property
- Motor vehicles
- Stocks and bonds
- Money within a savings account
- Businesses owned by either spouse or both
Separate property is:
- All possessions acquired before the marriage commenced
- Property given as a gift by a third party
- Compensation for personal injuries
- Inherited property
What Can Happen To Your Assets Without a Nassau County Prenuptial Agreement?
Without a proper prenup in place, your assets are, in short, subject to division in a later New York divorce proceeding.
This is not to suggest that you will automatically lose them to your hypothetical soon-to-be-ex. However, without an effective prenup in position, your Nassau County divorce proceeding will necessarily require the negotiation and, possibly, the litigation of the question of asset entitlement.
Also, without a prenup, in the event of your untimely death, your spouse will likely inherit a sizeable portion of your assets.
What Assets Can Be Protected with a Nassau County Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract stipulating the division of assets upon dissolution of a marriage. It is executed prior to the marriage and is intended to be legally effective within the confines of New York divorce law, should it come to that.
Some divorce disputes cannot be predetermined with a prenuptial agreement. For example, child custody issues, regardless of what a prenup says, will always be determined by the State of New York with regard to the best interests of the children involved. (It can, however, address the question of whether the marriage will produce children at all.)
What a prenup is best at predetermining is the disposition of assets, as noted above, as well as tax liability and asset-related tax treatment.
Generally, in preparation for the drafting of a prenup in Nassau County, you and your prospective spouse will want to catalogue the property you each owned prior to the initiation of the relationship, property owned separately from a prior point in time, property obtained after marriage, and property you intend to purchase after marriage.
It is worth noting that, under New York state law and even Federal law (by way of the US Bankruptcy and US Tax codes), the word “property” is an expansive term.
You might think of “property” as simply meaning your real estate, your car, or your wagon wheel coffee table, but it can also include the following ownership interests:
- Business ownership interests;
- Stock and equities ownership;
- Retirement accounts;
- Claims against third parties (the right to sue somebody);
- Intellectual properties such as copyrights and patents;
- Earned but unpaid income or commissions;
- Gifts received or to be received;
- And more.
Business and stock ownership often carry significant tax burdens along with them. A Nassau County prenup can likewise stipulate which of you is responsible for dealing with those burdens and with what funding source.
What Steps Will a Nassau County Prenup Lawyer Take?
A Nassau County prenup lawyer will ensure that your prenuptial agreement stands the test of time—and the test of a New York divorce court.
In particular, an experienced prenup attorney will ensure that your prenup complies with New York state law.
The laws of the State of New York with regard to the drafting and enforcement of contracts and with regard to divorce proceedings is highly particularized.
A New York state divorce court will scrutinize both the specific terms of a prenuptial agreement and the circumstances under which it was drafted and executed by the parties. Did one spouse sign under duress? Is there any indication of a lack of balance or equal bargaining power in the execution of the prenup?
Judges are highly attuned to such considerations.
It is vital that a prenup not only contain the right language to remain enforceable years after execution, theoretically, but also that the evidence of a mutual “meeting of the minds” in the drafting and production of the document be available for review.
Retaining an experienced Nassau County prenup lawyer to assist you will help to ensure that a judge will not void your prenup when and if the marriage dissolves.
Further, a Nassau County prenup lawyer will help to make the bargaining and drafting process a smooth one.
While attorneys—and divorce attorneys, in particular—may have the reputation of being bulldogs (and they should be, where necessary), retaining an attorney to assist with the negotiation and drafting of your prenuptial agreement can be a good step to take to avoid conflicts.
Lawyers are as often skilled mediators as they are courtroom fighters.
A Nassau County prenup lawyer will help you and your prospective spouse to navigate difficult points of conversation, to reduce emotion to “just business” points of agreement.
Retaining an attorney can alleviate the personal discomfort of one-to-one negotiation over, say, asset value with the person with whom you intend to spend the rest of your life.
Nassau County Prenuptial Agreements: The Bottom Line
The bottom line with regard to Nassau County prenuptial agreements is that they can an effective pre-martial protective measure that also enable, when successful, a more peaceable marital relationship.
A Nassau County prenup lawyer will help you to amiably negotiate, effectively draft, and successfully enforce your prenuptial agreement.
Contact us now to schedule your initial consultation.