The Benefits of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement

Marriage is a big step in one’s life, full of decision-making and compromises. It is important that couples know the benefits of a prenuptial agreement (commonly referred to as “prenup” or “premarital agreement”). The Carroll Law Firm can provide you with legal advice prior to your marriage to ensure you understand your individual rights, and the rights and benefits couples share after marriage. The attorneys at The Carroll Law Firm can explain the benefits of a prenuptial agreement, and can help you create a prenuptial agreement specifically for your marriage.

Prenuptial agreements are anything but romantic, and couples rarely want to contemplate worst case scenarios during such a happy time in their lives.  Many people are not aware that prenuptial agreements can be effective in circumstances other than divorce, such as legal separation or the death of one of the spouses. Either way, having the important discussions about assets prior to marriage really can help ease the stress and contention in case one of those worst case scenarios does occur in the future. In Arizona, premarital agreements are governed by the Arizona Uniform Premarital Agreement Act as set forth in Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 25-201 through 25-205.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into prior to marriage, setting the terms for possession of assets, treatment of future earnings, control of property and potential division if the marriage is later dissolved or when one of the spouses dies. The agreement must be fair and reasonable, giving each person full and fair disclosure, the ability to choose separate and independent counsel, and ample time to complete the agreement before the wedding. Arizona is a community property state, which means that a couple’s assets acquired during a marriage (including income/wages) are owned equally by both spouses. Therefore, couples who do not want an equal division need a prenuptial agreement to contractually prevent such division.

Benefits of a prenuptial agreement:

A prenuptial agreement gives both parties the certainty that they do not need to worry about what will happen should they divorce. The prenuptial agreement lists financial arrangements and the spouse’s understandings in a formal agreement so they know what to expect upon marriage. Having this agreement can protect your separate property, support your estate plan, reduce conflicts, clarify agreements between spouses, and establish procedures and ground rules for deciding future matters. Parties to a prenuptial agreement can preserve property and financial assets that they own prior to marriage. If one spouse brings considerable debts to a marriage, a prenuptial agreement can be used to protect assets of the other spouse from being used to satisfy those debts incurred outside the marriage. If one party has children from a prior marriage, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that family heirlooms are kept out of the marital estate. By entering a premarital agreement, there is less to fight about upon a divorce, making the divorce proceeding far less expensive since the spouse’s wishes would be set forth in the agreement.

Parties should obtain independent legal advice from an attorney when drafting prenuptial agreements. Although legal counsel is not required by Arizona law, there is a much higher risk that a prenuptial agreement would not be valid or could end in litigation if the document is not properly drafted, and if parties do not have independent legal counsel. A prenuptial agreement must be consistent with state law or it could be overturned. The Carroll Law Firm PLC can help you draft a proper prenuptial agreement. To schedule a free consultation to discuss prenuptial agreements, please call (623)551-9366.

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