4 Reasons Boomers Choose to Set Up a Prenuptial Agreement
Many older adults are finding love and considering remarriage following a divorce or death of a spouse. But marriage is different each time around.
When getting together with someone new at a later age, there may be children, property and relational baggage involved. As a result, many Baby Boomers are choosing to make a prenuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement to clarify their wishes for their decades of wealth accrued, business ventures built, personal property gained, and to fulfill promises to children and family.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
“A prenuptial agreement is a contract signed by a couple before their wedding detailing what their property rights and expectations would be upon divorce or death,” shared family law attorney Janice Yaw of Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, Attorneys at Law LLC. “It clearly defines division of assets, alimony, asset management during the marriage, and responsibility for debt – which is very important if the marriage ends.”
A prenuptial agreement, also known as a prenup, antenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, typically lists the property, assets, and debts each person has. It can override both Community Property laws and Equitable Distribution state laws. A cohabitation agreement is similar, but for those living together without being married.
Boomers’ Love Lives are Complicated
Baby Boomers, or those born between the years of 1946 and 1964, have been divorcing at a much higher rate than other American adults. While divorce is becoming less common among young adults, the divorce rate has roughly doubled among adults 50 and over since the 1990’s, according to Pew Research Center. The trend has been called “gray divorce.”
Following a divorce, Boomers are likely to remarry or cohabitate. Research found that two in three people between the ages of 55 and 64 who had been married ended up remarrying. Half of people 65 and over have remarried. Cohabitation has been on the rise among Boomers. In 2016, nearly a quarter of all cohabitators were 50 years or older, an increase of 75% since 2007.
As Boomers have grown older, many have had children, purchased a home, accrued a few retirement accounts and possibly some debt too. Experts advise that the more a person has – in terms of children, assets and debts – the more caution that should be exercised when considering remarriage. Consulting with a family law attorney and drawing up a prenuptial agreement and other important documents before remarrying will prevent costly problems in the future.
Reasons for a Prenuptial Agreement
Often, people think only the rich have prenups made, but an increasing number of couples are choosing this premarital option for a variety of reasons. Many Boomers cite the following rationale for setting up a prenuptial agreement before marrying or remarrying.
Appropriate Allocation of Property and Assets
Remarriage may impact distribution of retirement account payouts, Social Security, life insurance payments or property following the death of a spouse. A prenuptial agreement spells out what will happen to property so spouses can provide for children from prior marriages and each other, if necessary. Without a prenup, the surviving spouse may have the right to property, life insurance and retirement payments, leaving little for children.
Ensure your property and assets reach the loved ones you have chosen to receive them by contacting a family law attorney like Lepley, Engelman, Yaw and Wilk, LLC to draw up a prenuptial agreement or cohabitation agreement.
Clarification of Financial and Care Issues
If a divorce occurs, a good prenuptial agreement will help prevent a lengthy battle over physical property by outlining what is marital property and separate property and how the marital estate will be split in advance.
A prenup can also include spousal support, alimony or other financial obligations. It can help with estate planning issues, college expenses, the creation of trusts, and other financial provisions. These provisions are subject to a judge’s review, so keeping the agreement reasonable, fair and enforceable may prevent it from being eliminated by the judge. Given the ages of Boomers, it is likely that some physical or cognitive incapacitation will at some point in the new marriage. A good prenuptial agreement, power of attorney, and living will should dispel complications and spell out exactly who will care for the ill partner, pay for the care, and what care coordination should be done with the partner’s children.
Clarifying financial and caregiving rights and responsibilities during the marriage with a prenuptial agreement drawn up by a Pennsylvania family law attorney is important for couples.
Protection from Debts
If the remarriage sours and a divorce happens or a death occurs, debt incurred during the marriage may become the responsibility of the other spouse, if not specifically outlined in a prenuptial agreement.
A good prenuptial agreement will include both parties’ financial disclosure statement – both assets and debts – and outline how debt will be divided. A prenup can be challenged and deemed invalid the financial disclosure statements at the time of signing are incomplete or fraudulent.
Student debt and other loans can complicate the best marriage relationship, but a good prenup can specify specific debts to better one partner remains that partner’s responsibility, regardless of what point it was incurred.
Protect Business Assets and Control of Business
Without a prenuptial agreement, the state determines ownership of property and assets, possibly including business ownership and control. A prenup can protect Boomers’ business assets and future growth, as well as limit the control a spouse has in the business. This may be important, especially if the business was established prior to the outset of the new relationship or if it is a long-standing family business.
Prenups for Boomers – A Wise Choice
While discussing a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement may not feel like a romantic discussion to have when planning a long-term relationship, developing this legal document with a future partner or spouse is important for Boomers and their families.
Couples signing a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement should always have separate attorneys and have their attorney review the document before signing. We recommend signing the document well before the wedding to avoid later claims of coercion.
Even if there are not significant assets, a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement can prevent difficult, costly and heartbreaking legal battles down the road for Baby Boomers and their families.
Lepley, Engelman, Yaw & Wilk, Attorneys-at-Law, LLC, has a robust family law staff with years of experience helping clients prepare for the future with prenuptial and cohabitation agreements, power of attorney documentation, estate planning and more.
Please contact us for a consultation to discuss how a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement may benefit you, your partner and your family.