Prenuptial agreements may not seem very romantic, but they can serve a number of important purposes. Their primary purpose is to specify how your existing assets and debts should be classified and distributed if you end up divorcing or in the event of your death. In the event of a divorce, having a prenup can save you a great deal of time and money by simplifying some of the issues that must be decided.
Prenups can also protect your children’s inheritances. If you’re getting married for a second or third time, you may have kids from a prior relationship. If you die without a will, estate plan or prenuptial agreement in place, Kentucky law will determine who receives your property.
That generally means that over half your estate will go to your spouse and the rest will go to your kids. The proper planning documents can ensure that your kids receive the lion’s share of your property, or whatever share you prefer.
Similarly, in a Kentucky divorce without a prenup, each spouse receives an “equitable” share of the marital estate. That could leave you with much less than you expected to leave to your children. A prenup can specify that the property and debt you came into the marriage with is yours and should not be divided as part of the marital estate.
Creating a valid prenuptial agreement
You should be aware that prenups are carefully scrutinized by judges for signs of unfairness. It’s easy to see why.
Usually, the wealthier spouse is the one who wants the prenup — often simply because they have more assets to protect. The less wealthy spouse could feel coerced into signing away what would otherwise be theirs by right. This is especially true when the less wealthy spouse doesn’t have a separate attorney or when the agreement is signed very close to the wedding date.
For that reason, you should avoid even the appearance that your fiancé or fiancée is under undue pressure to sign. They should have any proposed prenup reviewed by their own lawyer and should feel free to propose changes to the agreement before it is signed. You should also carefully list all of your assets and debts accurately in the prenuptial agreement.
There are many items that are allowed in prenups, including rights during the marriage to manage the household property. These agreements can contain a wide range of financial choices you and your new partner agree to, such as:
- The ownership of one spouse’s business
- Whether existing assets and debts will be considered part of the marital estate
- Each party’s rights to retirement savings and investments
- Who is entitled to tax deductions and credits
- Management of the couple’s household bills and expenses
- Property distribution in the event of a party’s death
- A spouse’s entitlement to alimony upon divorce
They can also specify how disputes will be resolved, such as through mediation rather than litigation.
There are a number of things that can’t legally be included in a Kentucky prenup:
- Anything illegal
- Decisions about child support or custody
- Provisions that create a financial incentive for divorce
- Personal expectations and domestic matters, such as the division of labor
If your prenup contains provisions that aren’t allowed, a court could invalidate those provisions or the entire agreement. It’s important to have separate attorneys review any proposed agreement before you sign.