5 GOOD REASONS WHY EVERY COUPLE SHOULD HAVE A PRENUP
With less than two months to go until their wedding on May 19, the thorniest issue facing Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle this week has been anything but typical.
The burning question has been not what dress the bride shall wear on her big day, but rather the slightly less classically romantic matter of whether they will or won’t sign a prenuptial agreement ahead of the exchange of rings.
As it turns out, they won’t, although one assumes the legal red tape that has shaped the terms of their future life together has been painstakingly created and will have covered the basic rights the future Mr and Mrs Windsor can expect from each other should decisions need to be made down the line. Let us not forget, after all, that Miss Markle is a woman of significant means in her own right.
The issue of whether or not to draw up a prenup is one that is understandably uncomfortable, because it raises the spectre of divorce before promises of standing together in sickness and in health ‘til death us do part have even been made.
Let’s be honest, for a significant majority of people nothing says ‘I’m not convinced we’re going to make it’ quite like a prenup, and that’s a sentiment that flies in the face somewhat of a grand plan to be together forever.
But divorce, and the entitlements that entails, form only one outcome for which a prenup legislates, and although they’re not yet legally-binding in the UK, there are several other good reasons why every couple should consider drawing one up before they marry.
Here are 5 reasons that should make every couple stop to consider how they plan for the future:
Second marriages and children from previous marriages:
Where one or both intended spouses have been previously married and/or there are children from one or both of those marriages, a pre-marital agreement is a sensible way for both of you to determine at the outset what assets should be allocated to former spouses and those children. In doing so, you will also be able to specify how your own interests through your intended marriage are safeguarded.
People often arrive in a relationship with significantly different debt liability and a prenuptial agreement is an effective way of not only protecting yourself against liability for a pre-existing debt brought to the marriage by your spouse, but also determining how that debt will be serviced during the marriage. In this way, you are able to ring-fence debt to try to ensure you don’t share liability for it in the event of the marriage ending.
Just as people arrive in a relationship with different debt loads, so they may also enter a marriage with different expectations of the inheritance they may receive in the future. A prenup can protect your inheritance from division during a divorce, and items of sentimental or financial value may be protected in the same way.
If you run a successful business which was established before meeting – and without the involvement of – your intended spouse, a prenup can protect you against a claim being made on it should things go wrong in the future. Divorce can have a serious impact on cash flow and the health of a business, so taking steps to ensure it remains profitable and effective is a sensible move.
Incapacitation or death
It’s not only in the dissolution of a marriage that a prenuptial agreement can be helpful. It can also protect against – or provide a remedy for – a spouse retitling or liquidating assets if you are incapacitated. It’s also highly advisable to draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney to ensure your wishes are observed should you be unable to make decisions about your health or financial wellbeing.
Whilst prenups are not yet legally binding, they do carry significant evidential weight and therefore offer very real protection. But as with all delicate matters, it’s all down to communication.
Starting a conversation about how you’d both like your affairs to be managed if the worst happens should not be a taboo issue – as long as it’s done sensitively and focuses on practical rather than emotional intelligence and logic.
Our experienced and specialist solicitors in London are always happy to advise couples on drawing up a prenuptial agreement. Please contact us to find out more.