My daughter is getting married next year. We have family business and my daughter works in the business. Is a premarital agreement appropriate for her, even though she is only 25? When should she bring this up with her fiancé?
Yes, a premarital agreement is appropriate if you want to protect family business assets in the unfortunate event of a future divorce or for estate planning issues. Since your daughter works in the business, her active efforts in growing a family business become marital property and thus, divisible in a divorce. If you do not want this result, then a premarital agreement is the solution.
When should one bring up a premarital agreement? My advice is to bring the premarital agreement up as soon as the relationship is very serious, so that if signing a premarital agreement is a problem, no one goes deeper into the relationship. Bringing up the premarital agreement might go something like this: The couple is sitting around watching television and the topic of a premarital agreement comes up on the television program. You daughter nonchalantly says: “my family typically has premarital agreements.” This is probably easier in the second marriage, so a first marriage has to be handled more carefully and tactfully.
In the end, it is the couple’s decision on the premarital agreement; first marriages can become quite emotional on the issue. You, as the parents, control the assets, and if you cannot get your child’s cooperation on the premarital agreement, then there are trusts that can be created to help with divorce and estate planning. Please seek a qualified family law specialist for the premarital agreement and an estate planning specialist for trusts, who also might consult with the family lawyer.
This blog is an excerpt from Ask Carolyn, available on kindle.
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