Prenuptial Agreements are Invaluable
By Corri Fetman | April 07, 2023
Wedding bells in your future? A prenuptial agreement is the most valuable asset for you and your spouse as you enter this new chapter of life together. Whether you are going through the motions before your wedding or curious about invaluable options to avoid a long protracted divorce, this article will explain the reason a prenuptial agreements is a valuable tool in Illinois. So buckle up and take heed as these are important principles that are geared toward people planning to marry in Illinois.
Prenuptial Agreements are not just for the wealthy—they are for the realistic and intelligent person who wants to protect their assets and avoid legal fees in the event of a divorce. Despite what you might see in the media, you don’t have to be rich and famous to need a prenuptial agreement.
A prenuptial agreement (AKA “prenup”) is a legally binding contract between a couple that not only clearly lays out what happens in the event of divorce but also allows couples to engage in marital financial planning by rewriting and avoiding the state law that governs how their finances will be handled during marriage. Topics may range from allocating certain assets as separate property to creating joint accounts and other joint assets and from property division to spousal support. There are also ways to avoid estate planning laws that allow a party to do as they wish with their own estate plans and avoid the pitfalls of failing to plan properly.
A prenuptial agreement will also allow for bypassing the mandatory state laws that require that your spouse may renounce your will if you fail to leave a portion of your estate to your spouse. Yes, you read that correctly. In essence, prenuptial agreements are important for everyone contemplating marriage as it allows parties to avoid state laws and fashion a contract for dividing the estate in the event of divorce and provide protections in the event of death.
Benefits in a Divorce:
Just to provide some guidelines, here are some benefits of prenuptial agreements in Illinois:
- Protection of assets: Prenuptial agreements can protect each spouse’s assets and property acquired before and during the marriage. It can also outline how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce or legal separation.
- Debt allocation: Prenuptial agreements can specify how debts incurred before and during the marriage will be divided between spouses.
- Alimony and spousal support: Prenuptial agreements can establish the terms of alimony or spousal support payments in the event of a divorce or legal separation. It can also limit or waive spousal support altogether.
- Clarity and certainty: Prenuptial agreements provide clarity and certainty in the event of a divorce or legal separation. It can avoid confusion, misunderstandings, and potential conflicts that can arise during the divorce process.
- Protection of family businesses: Prenuptial agreements can protect family businesses and their assets by ensuring that ownership and wealth remains within the family.
- Limiting Attorneys’ Fees and Costs: A prenuptial agreement will most certainly allow a litigant to avoid the protracted litigation in a divorce action as everything except custody and child(ren) related issues are fair game for the contract.
Benefits for Estate Planning Purposes:
In Illinois, a prenuptial agreement can offer several benefits for avoiding probate and create a contractual estate plan which are included but not limited to the following:
- Protecting Separate Property: A prenuptial agreement can outline the separate property of each spouse and clarify what property should remain separate during the marriage. This can be particularly important when it comes to estate planning, as it can ensure that assets acquired before and during the marriage are not subject to division in the event of a divorce or death.
- Avoiding Probate: A prenuptial agreement can also include provisions that allow for the transfer of property outside of probate. This can help reduce the time and expense associated with the probate process, which can be especially helpful for high-net-worth individuals with complex estates.
- Ensuring Property Distribution: By creating a prenuptial agreement, both parties can ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes in the event of divorce or death. This can help avoid disputes and provide peace of mind for both parties.
- Reducing Estate Taxes: A prenuptial agreement can also include provisions that reduce estate taxes by transferring assets to a trust or other tax-advantaged vehicle. This can be particularly beneficial for couples with large estates who are concerned about minimizing the tax liability for their heirs.
It’s important to note that a prenuptial agreement must be carefully drafted and executed to be enforceable in Illinois. Additionally, both parties must be represented by their own counsel and provide full and complete disclosure of the values of their respective assets and liabilities. It’s recommended to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that your prenuptial agreement is legally sound and provides the necessary protections for your assets.
It is also advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney in Illinois to draft and review your prenuptial agreement. At Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd., we provide exceptional prenuptial agreement drafting, preparation, and negotiation services, so schedule a consultation today to discuss your legal needs.