Estate Planning during the Month of Love?

It’s February again and the Hallmark people will tell us that Valentine’s Day is coming and we should be celebrating our love!

For a lot of people that will mean an engagement to marry!  Hurray!!!
Time to pick your venue, your dress, the members of the wedding party…absolutely!

But wait!  What about a prenuptial agreement?  No, I am not kidding.

Prenuptial agreements are not simply about protecting assets in case of a divorce – indeed, divorce is only one element of what a prenuptial agreement should address.

While a prenuptial agreement is very important when you want to set the parameters for who gets what in a divorce, many people are marrying later in life and have accumulated substantial assets prior to entering into marriage.  For those people, the prenuptial agreement identifies each spouse’s separate assets and can assure that those assets remain separate for estate planning purposes.

Putting a prenuptial agreement in place can assure that assets acquired prior to the marriage (i) remain separate from the new spouse’s assets; and (ii) are inherited as that spouse intended in the event of the death of that spouse during the marriage – rather than getting intermingled with the surviving spouse’s assets and estate.

Indeed, inasmuch as many marriages today are not first marriages, there may be children from a previous relationship who the spouse wishes to succeed to that spouse’s assets – the prenuptial agreement can assure issues of inheritance are properly addressed and a child is not inadvertently disinherited.

Recognizing that the prenuptial agreement can address so much more than the potential for divorce is just the start of your process.

The single most important thing is to assure that you have coordinated your intentions with your estate planning documents once you put your prenuptial agreement in place.

Your estate planning documents should make reference to your prenuptial agreement and its provisions and the provisions of your estate planning documents should not conflict with your prenuptial agreement.

So, when you are celebrating the month of love, remember, It’s not just about you!

Barbara M. Pizzolato, Esq.
After obtaining her J.D. from New York Law School in 1987, Ms. Pizzolato obtained her license to practice law in New Jersey (1987), New York (1988), Connecticut (1988) and Florida (2002).
Since moving to Fort Myers, FL in 2002, Ms. Pizzolato has maintained her license to practice law in NJ, NY, CT and FL and actively practices law in NY, NJ and FL.
Ms. Pizzolato is a member of:
. The Florida Bar
(Real Property, Probate & Trusts and Business Law Sections)
. The Lee County Bar Association;
. The American Bar Association
(Litigation, Practice Management and Tax Sections);
. The New York State Bar Association; and
. The Suffolk County Bar Association.
Ms. Pizzolato has represented thousands of clients in generating and implementing their estate plans since opening her own practice in 1994 and accepts invitations to speak on trusts and estates topics.

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