When people think about marital agreements, “prenups” most often come to mind. Prenuptial agreements, also called ante-nuptial agreements, are the most popular marital agreements, as those with assets attempt to keep those assets in their bloodline if a divorce takes place. There are also post marital agreements, also known as post-nuptial agreements.
For those concerned about the possibility of divorce down the road, premarital agreements are a reasonable precaution. In Massachusetts, when a person marries, his or her separate property becomes marital property.
Under Massachusetts law, all property may be subject to division in the event of a divorce. A premarital agreement allows a person who is about to marry to preserve and protect his or her separate property, so the property will be excluded from the marital estate in the event of divorce.
Prenups are also use to preserve a person’s inheritable estate on his or her death, for children of a prior marriage, charity or for other purposes.
Prenups are most popular with people who enter a marriage with large assets. Often these assets are not easily divisible, such as an interest in a family owned business or a large tract of real estate. Though most premarital agreements are mainly concerned with complex property issues, they can set boundaries on many other issues in a marriage.
Premarital agreements can involve:
- Wills and trusts
- Rights to control property during the marriage
- Dividing retirement and employee benefits
- Future inheritances
- Payment or waiver of alimony
- Real estate
- Marital home
- Business interests
Sometimes an agreement between spouses that divides marital property can preserve and protect assets and reach an agreement on financial issues. These agreements can ease marital stress and resolve issues in order to avoid a divorce, or to divide assets. A post-marital agreement or post-nuptial agreement may also protect one spouse’s assets from the other spouse’s debts or from the risk associated with a spouse’s business venture, or for a variety of other reasons.