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Prenuptial agreements can help couples protect separate assets

Asset preservation has become an increasingly important factor in marriage as well as estate planning, particularly as divorce and blended families become more common realities in the United States.

The rising popularity of prenuptial agreements is a notable reflection of the changing matrimonial landscape in this country. In an October 2013 survey of 1,600 members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 63 percent reported an increase in the number of prenuptial agreements during the previous three years.

And those attorneys who were surveyed cited protection of separate property as the top matter covered in prenuptial agreements — 80 percent of prenuptial agreements dealt with this key issue.

Many couples getting married have solid reasons to protect separate property through a prenuptial agreement. Often, at least one of the would-be spouses is entering the marriage with significant assets of his or her own. Sometimes, the soon-to-be-newlyweds expect that one or both of them will derive assets from a trust or inheritance. Others have children from a previous marriage and wish to protect the inheritance meant for them.

Whatever the reason for a prenuptial agreement, it is essential that both parties fully disclose all their financial assets to the attorney who will be drafting the prenuptial agreement. Full disclosure helps foster trust between the two individuals about to wed, and it will also help the attorney defend the prenuptial agreement if the couple one day divorces.

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