Deciding to marry someone usually means sharing a majority of personal resources and future experiences with that person. Couples typically pool their income, cohabitate in a house and happily share their good fortune with one another whenever possible.
However, there are some resources that people may not want to share with others, including their spouses. An inheritance is a perfect example. Assets set aside by parents, grandparents or other family members should belong to the person who receives them, as that was clearly the wish of the testator who left the inheritance for that person.
Someone planning to get married might also anticipate receiving a valuable inheritance from family members in the future. Such individuals may want to discuss a prenuptial agreement with their spouse in an effort to safeguard that resource, even if it is used as funds for a marital enterprise.
How prenuptial agreements help
Technically, inherited property is separate property when couples divorce in most cases. However, some spouses commingle their inherited assets and other resources with marital property. Then, when they later divorce, they discover that their spouse can lay claim to a significant portion of their inheritance.
Taking the time to address a future inheritance before one marries is a smart move. The process of negotiating a prenuptial agreement establishes realistic expectations for both spouses regarding what they will share and what they will receive if they divorce. It also helps ensure that the legacy family members leave for one spouse won’t end up diminished if the marriage fails.
Prenuptial agreements benefit both spouses
When engaged couples take the time to discuss their expectations and wishes with one another, they will have an easier time establishing and maintaining a healthy relationship. If they do eventually divorce, the prenuptial agreement they negotiate will make it much easier for them to pursue an uncontested divorce.
Both spouses will have an opportunity to clarify what they expect from one another and the relationship and to protect certain resources that they believe should not become marital property during the prenuptial agreement negotiation process. Discussing personal assets and expectations is a smart move for those preparing for marriage and is necessary if they want to sign a valid prenuptial agreement.