The Shuff Law Firm has provided countless thorough, fully enforceable Premarital Agreements to clients which serve to protect the respective financial interests of the parties in the event of unforeseen circumstances that result in the termination of a marriage.

Premarital Agreements are routinely a subject that is avoided by most engaged couples, as divorce is never anticipated at the time of marriage.  The idea of even considering a Premarital Agreement may be viewed by some as implying a lack of faith in the marital relationship; however, for many couples, a Premarital Agreement can be an extremely sound legal decision that is beneficial for both parties.  

The commitment of marriage does, in fact, include various financial rights and duties.  The ability to openly communicate with one another regarding those rights and duties prior to marriage is advantageous to both parties, as it can prevent future misunderstandings and conflicts.  Thererefore, rather than viewing a Premarital Agreement as an implication of a future divorce, it should be understood as a method of reaching a mutual uderstanding regarding the handling of financial affairs during the marriage.  

Additionally,  while divorce is never desired nor anticipated by either party at the time of marriage, a Premarital Agreement can serve as an insurance policy which will save both parties thousands of dollars in attorney's fees in the event of that unfortunate circumstance.  

A Premarital Agreement should be considered if you own real property or a business, have a net worth greater than that of your future spouse, have children from a previous marriage, anticipate a future inheritance or are considering leaving a portion of your estate to someone other than your future spouse, or if either your or your future spouse have significant debt.

Under California law, premarital and postmarital agreements can encompass a broad range of matters, including, but not limited to, the following:

1.  Disposition of both community and separate property assets and debts

A premarital agreement can be tailored to include provisions relating to the ownership of separate property assets and debts, as well as countless other aspects of your financial life. Both parties may identify any and all assets and/or debts they wish to maintain as "separate" from the other, such as a business, real property, funds acquired through an inheritance, or student loans. An understanding of the assets and debts which the parties agree upon as "joint" or "community property" can be specified, such as joint bank accounts, vehicles, or real property purchased during the marriage.   The earnings of each party, who will be paying for what, and whether or not there will be a joint account for living expenses can also be specified in the agreement.  

2.   Protection of your estate and disposition of death benefits:

In instances where a party has children from a prior marriage, a premarital agreement can protect all property one spouse may desire to set aside as inheritance for those children.  This can serve to eliminate any concerns adult children may have that a subsequent spouse might take what they would otherwise inherit, and the new spouse will no longer be viewed as a financial threat to those children.  

3.  Determination of spousal support:

Some premarital agreements include provisions relating to the payment of spousal support or a waiver of spousal support.   The agreement can be drafted to include a specific amount of spousal support to be paid to one party, as well as the duration of the spousal support. Both parties can also agree to a waiver of spousal support.   These are decisions which should be discussed with skilled legal counsel, as a number of factors should be considered, including the net worth of the parties, whether one party is expecting an inheritance, whether a party has elderly parents who rely on them for financial support, whether or not there are minor children, and so on.

Whether or not to enter into a premarital agreement is something which should be discussed early between the parties, and a consultation with skilled and knowledgeable legal counsel long before the date of the marriage is strongly recommended.  There are various legal requirements under california law which must be adhered to to insure the enforceability of a premarital agreement.  The agreement must be executed voluntarily and willingly by both parties, and both parties must fully understand the provisions set forth in the agreement.  Both parties must also be represented by their own independent legal counsel to avoid any invalidation of the premarital agreement.

The Shuff Law Firm is available to assist you in providing a Premarital Agreement that is tailored especially for each client to protect their legal rights and ensure that both parties have a full understanding of the their respective rights as they enter into the commitment of marriage.  

For more information, please feel free to consult with the Shuff Law Firm to help you determine the necessity of a Premarital Agreement for your specific circumstances and how a Premarital Agreement can be of benefit to you and your future spouse.

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