Since a prenuptial agreement makes you talk about the tough stuff – like who gets what and when – it can really benefit brides- and grooms-to-be.
Step 1: Know why you're doing it Discuss your motives for a prenup with your soon-to-be-spouse, and make sure you both see eye to eye on your reasons.
Step 2: Don’t take it personally If your partner is interested in getting a prenup, try not to take it personally. Prenups have been made by countless couples for countless reasons. Don’t let it destroy the magic of your relationship or undermine trust.
Step 3: Plan ahead Plan ahead. It often takes several months to negotiate the final version of a prenup. The document must be executed before you get married, so give yourself time to get everything in order.
Step 4: Lawyer up To insure that each of your interests is protected, hire separate lawyers experienced in family or matrimonial law. Two sets of eyes will have a better chance of catching errors. Ask friends for referrals, or consult your state’s bar association website.
TIP: A prenup must be written, based on full disclosure, signed by both people, totally voluntary, and fair to both parties. If these conditions don't exist, a court can nullify the agreement.
Step 5: Define your terms A prenup is basically a divorce settlement made before any divorce occurs. Your lawyers or a neutral third party (called a mediator) can help you hammer out your terms, including how your assets will be divided in case of divorce – or even death. Some prenups have a "sunset clause," which invalidates the agreement after the couple has been married for a certain number of years.
TIP: Although you'll still need your lawyers, using a mediator can help you save on legal expenses.
Step 6: Sign on the line When you've both reviewed and approved your finalized agreement, it's time to see the notary public. Once it's signed and witnessed, your document is legal and binding.
FACT: In 1849, heiress Adelicia Acklen and her second husband, Joseph, signed the first American prenup, entitling Adelicia to complete control of her property and assets.