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What Should You Know About Prenuptial Agreements?

William D. Stilley, Esq. Oct. 19, 2021

Unfortunately, prenuptial agreements, or prenups as they are commonly known, often have a negative connotation. People often think they are only used by wealthy people who don’t expect a marriage to last. But the truth is even the strongest of marriages can benefit greatly from a prenuptial agreement.

Here is the thing that is not well known about prenuptial agreements, they don’t only help during a divorce. In fact, they can be extremely helpful in proper estate planning. A prenup can perfectly compliment other estate planning documents upon your death. With a prenup, you can protect gifts and inheritances from other family members, as well as passing assets you came into the marriage with to your spouse without necessarily passing your entire estate. It should also be noted that prenuptial agreements do not increase the likelihood of divorce. In fact, it can bring about harmony and peace of mind in your marriage knowing that you have a greater degree of certainty about your financial future.

If you want to make sure you have a great deal of control over your assets, prenuptial agreements can be very important. Because prenups can be highly customized, you can make sure it provides protection for separate assets that may be acquired during your marriage. This obviously provides a great deal of flexibility when planning your estate and keeping track of your assets.

While prenuptial agreements are beneficial for everyone, they are most well known when involved in divorce proceedings. In a divorce, a prenuptial agreement could be all that stands in place to protect you and your assets. Much like how a last will and testament helps you dictate how your estate is distributed upon your death, a prenup helps you decide how your assets and estate will be divided in the event of divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement in place, the court will decide how things will be distributed and divided.

There are a few things that you should know before signing a prenuptial agreement. For one, if you are a resident of Missouri it is important to consider that Missouri has not adopted a “Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act.” This means that Missouri has its own set of rules when it comes to the enforceability of prenuptial agreements. There are several requirements and best practices that you and your future spouse need to follow when agreeing to a prenup.

First and most importantly, you and your future spouse need to consult with separate, responsible attorneys. This will help ensure that things are drafted properly, fairly, and that there are no conflicts of interest that arise from the agreement. Secondly, make sure you complete the agreement in enough time before your wedding to give you and your future spouse time to review and discuss the agreement thoroughly. You also need to make sure that you have disclosed all of your assets to each other. A fourth requirement, which may seem painfully obvious, is that the agreement must be signed before your marriage. If it is signed after your marriage it becomes a postnuptial agreement which has its own set of rules and requirements.

One other thing to remember is that the State of Kansas has adopted different rules regarding prenuptial agreements than the State of Missouri. This is why it is incredibly important that you work with an attorney to draft your prenuptial agreement. If you don’t, you may make some critical mistakes and your agreement may be deemed unenforceable by a court.

We get it, when you are planning to be married the last thing you want to think about is the possibility of divorce or death. But these are important contingencies to consider. It is better to have a plan in place and never use it than come upon a crisis and have nowhere to turn.

Stilley Law Office can assist with drafting prenuptial agreements, as well as all of your other estate planning needs. William Stilley is licensed in both Kansas and Missouri, and with offices in both Independence and Overland Park, he can serve the entire Kansas City metro! Give us a call today and set up an appointment.