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Estate planning for marriage

While it might not be the most romantic view on marriage, spouses who are getting set to enter into matrimony with a partner should treat the union as somewhat of a business partnership. Spouses need to understand how estate planning as a couple will affect their current plans as an individual.

For instance, most spouses come into a marriage with what are called premarital assets. Just as the name would suggest, these are assets that a person brings to the marital table. In the event of a divorce, these assets would stay with their rightful owner. Marital assets are assets acquired during a marriage. These would be split during divorce.

If a spouse intermingles the two, premarital assets could forever be transformed into marital assets. This is done when premarital assets are retitled or mixed in with marital assets. This is commonly seen with such assets as 401Ks, 403Bs and pensions.

A future spouse's debt is another thing that will play a big role in planning for the future as a couple rather than a single individual.

A prenuptial agreement is a very common estate planning tool that allows a spouse-to-be the power to protect their assets or income. These arrangements are most beneficial for spouses entering a second marriage and those with a considerable amount of assets.

Spouses heading into their second marriage could have children from their previous marriage. A prenuptial agreement would help ensure that children from the first marriage are still entitled to the estate of their parent.

Prospective spouses that have wealthy parents might consider a prenuptial agreement as well. This would ensure they receive their inheritance without their partner laying claim to half or all of it in the event of death or divorce.

Prenuptial agreements are often considered the unromantic side of estate planning, but they have helped many spouses throughout Florida, and the rest of the country, protect their assets.

Source: SouthSource, "Planning financially to be legally bound," Laura Jerpi, Feb. 7, 2013

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