Though pre-nuptial agreements are commonly referred to a distant cousin, the post-nuptial agreement is far less often seen in Massachusetts. Though more infrequently used, it can still be a very powerful and important tool for couples to consider to protect their assets in case of divorce or separation.
The only difference between a pre- and post-nuptial agreement is timing. The post-nup is signed during a marriage and is meant to shield assets in case the marriage fails. Postnups should be seen as a kind of “reset button” used to make accommodations for recent wealth or a way to fix earlier money problems that damaged the relationship. In an odd way the kind of divorce preparation can actually create more peace in a relationship as issues are forced to be dealt with.
Post-nups can be an ordeal putting together as both parties need separate legal counsel to review the documents and to potentially coordinate with outside experts such as accountants or tax specialists. Post-nups may also require addressing issues in family owned businesses like succession planning or valuation.
The following are some important questions to ask when preparing for a post-nup agreement:
- What problem are we trying to avoid? This is the central question to answer when trying to draft a postnup, why are we doing and what do we hope to achieve.
- What about our families? Children are inevitably part of such arrangements and postnupts can affect how inheritance will be split later on. Dealing with family owned businesses add additional wrinkles and require open conversations with the adult children who may be involved in the business already.
- Is there debt? And if so, how much? If one or both parties is hiding this information, disclosure is part of the process. To be successful both sides must be willing to face the cold hard reality of their financial situation.
- What about everyday expenses? If one party believes that certain expenses are a burden, it is time to talk about relocating responsibilities.
- What about insurance? Life, health, home and, disability, all of the above need to be reviewed and dealt with.
When done correctly, a post-nuptial agreement can benefit both spouses and actually be a positive step for a relationship.
If you find yourself facing the prospect of a child custody, separation, or divorce issue, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to guide you through the difficult process.