Why is it important to have a professionally prepared prenuptial agreement?
In a word: enforceability. Prenuptial agreements provide financial certainty. This certainty is lost if your prenuptial agreement is poorly drafted or drafted in haste. These documents are tricky to draft. Simply picking an off-the-shelf prenup from Legal Zoom or some other website can result in it getting thrown out of a divorce on a variety of grounds.
The four keys to a proper prenuptial agreement.
Washington State is a community property state. This means that a prenup is a total re-write of the community and separate property laws of Washington State. In short, a prenup tells the court to throw out the current laws on who gets “the dishwasher” and substitute it with your own laws.
While there is not necessarily a certain form or structure your prenup should follow, there are four very critical rules rules to remember when drafting a prenuptial agreement:
- Full disclosure
- Free of duress
- Opportunity for outside counsel
First, you must have full disclosure of all the assets. This means that you want to disclose every account and every asset you have. Everything sacred must be disclosed. If you don’t disclose it, it can be grounds to have the prenuptial agreement thrown out.
Second, you must make sure that the contract is fair to the spouse who is not seeking the prenuptial agreement. If both parties seek a prenuptial agreement, this issue isn’t so important. However, in the cases of significant wealth disparity, you’ll want to ensure that your agreement contains provisions which spell out the rights of both spouses in a fair manner.
Third, the agreement must be free of duress. This means it can not be done at the last minute. You need time to draft a proper prenup.
Fourth, there must be an opportunity for the other side to have counsel. This last key catches a lot of people. We’ve seen prenups get thrown out on this ground alone. Here at The Seattle Family Law Group, we won’t certify any prenuptial agreement that does not at least provide for your fiancee the opportunity to have it reviewed with outside counsel.
Obtain proper counsel now.
If you are planning on getting married and think a prenuptial agreement is important for your financial future, contact us a call today. The best time to start planning your prenup is as far in advance as possible. We have drafted many agreements over the years and can provide advice on matters from the financial to the mundane aspects of prenuptial agreements.
We’ve helped many clients here in the Seattle, Bellevue and Western Washington areas. Although there is no magic bullet, we can help to make sure that your prenup is as close to a “massey prenup” as you can get in Washington State.