Prenuptial agreements are a common step before marriage in Texas. A prenuptial agreement, or prenup as they’re commonly known, is simply an agreement between partners about what happens when the marriage ends, either by divorce or death. All marriages end.
As a prenup lawyer in Austin, I help an increasing number of couples make prenup agreements each year. In short, prenups help loving and committed couples retain control over their assets and personal affairs. However, there are a number of important reasons why a prenup may be right for you and your spouse.
1. Family Members
Couples often come to me for prenup agreements to please family members. Sometimes, it’s to please a parent. Other times, it’s to ease the minds of children from a previous marriage.
A good relationship between your partner and your family is key to a successful marriage. Conflicts between spouses and other members of the family often play a large role in divorce cases.
The relationship between your fiancé and your family should be important to you. It should be important to your fiancé too. A prenuptial agreement can help to build or firm up that relationship and demonstrate trustworthiness by agreeing to a prenup.
For example, your family may own land, mineral interests, or a family business. Your ownership interest may be shared with aunts, uncles or cousins, for example. Those family members may be concerned about how your marriage will affect ownership. Without a prenup, ownership would be determined by a court when your marriage ends: A family court if you divorce. Or a probate court in the event of death. A prenuptial agreement can handle these issues so family members can rest assured.
You may also expect to receive inheritance or family heirlooms in the future. It may be important to your family that those gifts remain with you. They probably expect you to keep those gifts if you divorce, and they probably want you to decide who receives them when you die. Without a prenup, Texas community property and probate laws decide those issues for you. A prenuptial agreement allows you and your spouse to take control of this issue and address family members’ concerns about inheritance and family heirlooms.
Unfortunately, family members sometimes express doubt that a marriage will last. Most often it’s a parent, grandparent, or adult child from a prior relationship. Getting a prenup tells them they’re wrong. It says: We’ll get a prenup because we don’t need one. Staying together will prove it.
2. Estate Planning
A custom-tailored prenuptial agreement, in combination with a will, is a great way to plan for the future of your estate. All marriages end, whether in divorce or death. A solid plan now is key to protecting your family in the future.
When a marriage ends due to divorce or death, spouses and family must deal with difficult property issues, such as homestead rights, beneficiary designations, and the payment of creditors, just to name a few. Without an estate plan, Texas law will decide these issues for you.
A prenuptial agreement is a powerful estate planning tool. A prenup helps to ensure that property is passed down in accordance with the terms of your will. If you die with a will (but without a prenup) in Texas, then it’s possible for property to change hands differently than you intended. To avoid this, a prenuptial agreement creates legal rights that enable you to pass down gifts in your will as you see fit.
A prenup agreement also gives you the power to provide for your spouse if you die first; almost like an insurance policy. For example, if you die first and own the family home in your name alone, a prenuptial agreement can provide your spouse with the option to live in that home for the rest of his or her life, even though he or she never owned it. In this way, a tailormade prenuptial agreement gives you and your future spouse the power to plan for your future together.
3. You Recently Moved to Austin
Texas’ community property rules are very different than the laws of most states. Indeed, Texas is one of only nine “community property” states in the nation.
This means that Texas, unlike the vast majority of states, presumes that all money and property earned or acquired during a marriage (with few exceptions) is divided between spouses. These rules can create unfair and unanticipated results when a marriage ends by divorce or death.
If you recently moved from out of state, the result in a divorce here might surprise you. Some couples believe the rules should not change so drastically simply because you moved across state lines. A prenuptial agreement can replace Texas community property rules with a set of rules more like the laws of the state where you were married.
Discussing a prenup with your fiancé may be awkward. But remember that talking about money and planning for the future are part of a healthy marriage, and that your reasons for wanting a prenup are valid.
If you’re searching for experienced Austin prenup lawyers, educate yourself, explore your options, and contact Thompson Law.