Premarital Agreements in South Dakota - Not Just For The Young Or Wealthy

Premarital agreements are not just for the young or wealthy. In fact, premarital agreements are particularly important for seniors who get married later in life. It’s important to remember that a premarital agreement doesn't mean you’re planning to divorce or that you don’t trust your new spouse. On the contrary, senior couples are actually more likely to appreciate the importance of their upcoming commitment of marriage.

The reality is that individuals in middle and later life are likely to have more substantial assets than younger couples. Also, seniors often have assets that they want to leave to their children. As a result, seniors getting married often have more to protect than younger couples.

In order to provide a solid foundation, seniors should consider reviewing their finances before getting married. There are some very harsh consequences that can occur if you do not carefully plan for the economic effects of a potential late-life divorce. Premarital agreements also help determine spousal rights upon your death. A surprise to many, but your new spouse actually has a better right to inherit from you when you pass than your current children. As a result, you should carefully prepare a premarital agreement that addresses every aspect of your finances and aligns with your estate plan. If you are already married, it is not too late. You may be able to do a post marital agreement to protect yourself, your spouse, and your children.

Here are three tips to successfully deal with some of the thorny issues that may surround a premarital agreement.

Tip #1 – Discuss the subject early

Mentioning a premarital agreement shouldn’t come as a surprise if you and your companion have been open with each other as the relationship became more serious. Start the discussion well before the wedding day. It will take longer than you think – you’ll need time to consider each other’s ideas and reflect on what’s most important to you. 

Tip #2 – Hire separate family law attorneys 

To help ensure that a premarital agreement will be legally enforceable, both spouses should hire separate attorneys. Only use attorneys who are familiar with premarital agreements.  In drafting a premarital agreement, your attorney should be concerned with understanding your needs and wishes, be alert to future issues that could arise, address issues that are important to your marriage, and make sure that you fully understand the premarital agreement’s terms.

Tip #3 – Talk to your family

Under most circumstances, we recommend sharing your thoughts with your adult children. Sometimes, your kids may think that your money will eventually be theirs and can’t help feeling suspicious about a new spouse. It’s better for the family to know what’s happening instead of living with question marks.

Rather than weaken a marriage, a premarital agreement can actually strengthen it because both spouses fully understand where they stand financially. This understanding provides spouses with some protection from the unknown – and the benefit of this certainty outweighs the pain of an “uncomfortable” discussion before tying the knot.

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones