In a straw poll the majority of engaged couples could see the sense in signing a prenuptial agreement before their wedding but they weren’t sure how to go about getting one. In this article prenup agreement expert, Robin Charrot, looks at how to get a prenup.
Family law and prenuptial agreement solicitors
Are prenups unromantic?
If you are engaged to be married you may be worried about raising the idea of a prenuptial agreement with your fiancée or fiancé. That’s totally understandable as no one wants to appear unromantic or to cast a pall over the engagement celebrations.
Whilst prenups may not be romantic they do show that you care and that you are taking your future seriously. That’s because a prenuptial agreement has to be ‘fair’ to both a husband and wife or to both civil partners. Therefore, if you are the financially weaker party to the marriage or civil partnership, the suggestion of a prenup, whilst not romantic, can offer you peace of mind and financial security.
Who wants a prenup?
As prenuptial agreement solicitors we are often initially approached by third parties wanting to make initial enquiries to help sort out a prenup for an engaged couple. There can be many very valid reasons for this, such as:
- Parents wanting to protect the deposit on the family home because they gifted the deposit money to their son or daughter.
- Grandparents wanting to make lifetime gifts to a grandchild as part of estate planning and wanting to keep gifted money ‘in the family’.
- A parent or grandparent, having transferred assets to a child to avoid care home fee issues or to minimise inheritance tax, wanting to ensure that the transferred property is ring fenced in the prenuptial agreement.
- A family member who has transferred shares in a family business to the younger generation as part of business and retirement planning.
- The trustee of an onshore or offshore discretionary trust where the trustees anticipate making future capital or income distributions.
- A family member who has left a substantial legacy in their will to a family member and who wants to ensure that their legacy is protected through the prenuptial agreement ringfencing it.
- A parent or family member has been through a difficult divorce and wants to protect the engaged couple by ensuring they sign a prenuptial agreement to ensure that they don’t end up in a bitter and expensive court battle over the divorce financial settlement.
- A parent or other family member is from overseas where prenuptial agreements are common place.
- An accountant or financial advisor or other professional who wants to ensure that a client is financially protected, for example, where one party to the marriage has already inherited a lot of money or won the lottery or is a sportsperson with exceptionally high earnings but a time limited career span.
In addition, many engaged couples are also proactive in seeking out prenuptial agreement advice. For example, a financially weaker party to the marriage may actively seek a prenuptial agreement to show they aren’t a gold digger or to show extended family that they aren’t marrying for financial reasons. Equally, the financially stronger party to the engagement may want to protect their partner with the security of a prenuptial agreement that meets their needs should the couple take the decision to separate at a later date.
How to get a prenup
The often-asked question is ‘how to get a prenup’ whereas the question really is ‘how do I get my partner to agree to a prenuptial agreement and how do I tactfully raise the topic?’
Every couple is different so what works for one won’t work for someone else but prenuptial agreement solicitors say it is best to avoid the topic whilst on bended knee or when saying yes. Equally, it is best not to leave the question of a prenup to the last minute when you or your partner are stressing about wedding arrangements and last-minute preparations. In addition, for a prenup to carry weight with the family court, it should ideally be signed twenty-eight days before the wedding. That means the topic of the prenup agreement has to be raised well in advance of the wedding date so that the contents can be discussed and agreed.
One of the best ways to raise the topic of a prenup is in a general discussion about your future together. For example, you may be planning to move in with a partner or buy a house together or contemplating starting a family.
Another possibility is to raise the topic as part of your financial paperwork. For example, if you are planning on writing a new will in contemplation of your marriage or signing a new power of attorney or taking out additional life insurance.
The key point about a prenup agreement is that the agreement should protect both of you as the agreement needs to be fair and meet both of your respective needs to be given weight by the family court.
Conditions for a prenup
Prenuptial agreement solicitors say unless both of you comply with some conditions for a prenup agreement the document may carry little or no weight and therefore may be a pointless exercise. The conditions for a prenup are:
- The prenup must be freely entered into.
- You and your partner must fully appreciate the implications of entering into the prenup.
- The agreement must not be significantly unfair to one spouse or civil partner.
- You and your partner must each have your own independent legal advice.
- You and your partner must each provide financial information about your assets, income and any debts.
- A prenup should ideally be finalised at least twenty-eight days before the wedding.
Prenuptial agreement solicitors say that if you are interested in learning more about the option of signing a prenuptial agreement then the best way forward is to have a chat with an expert so you get a better idea of how a prenup may help and protect your family.