The Importance of Premarital Legal Planning

Experience reveals that couples planning to marry or become domestic partners often lack a clear understanding of each other’s financial concerns and expectations or how the law may affect their rights and responsibilities toward each other. Sadly, the failure to understand these issues often combines with the common difficulty couples have in discussing financial concerns, resulting in disputes over finances--one of the leading contributors to the failure of relationships.

Premarital legal planning can be an important component in developing healthy and successful relationships. Unfortunately, the subject is viewed by many as distasteful or "unromantic" and is frequently avoided by couples planning to marry. If planning is undertaken, it traditionally involves presentation of a premarital agreement, prenuptial agreement, or cohabitation agreement that is designed to protect the interests of only one of the parties. This can foster resentment and mistrust, potentially souring of the relationship and affecting the chances for long term success of the marriage.

Marital property, estate, probate, and tax laws have become increasingly complex and challenging to understand. These laws often impact marriages and domestic partnerships in unanticipated ways. Couples sometimes enter into relationships or financial transactions with erroneous or incomplete understanding of the consequences of their actions. Serious problems may result which could have been avoided with proper guidance and appropriate planning.

Thoughtful premarital planning can help the engaged couple develop marital financial and estate plans to meet their respective interests, address their concerns, and create a healthy foundation for their future relationship by enabling them to:

  • Learn how property, estate, probate and tax laws will impact the marital relationship or domestic partnership, and their responsibilities to each other during the marriage.
  • Develop mutual understanding of each party's goals, concerns and interests relating to their financial and legal dealings with each other.
  • Create effective strategies to best realize the interests of the couple and provide for the needs of their blended families using resources such as premarital agreements, wills and trusts.
  • Structure a framework to facilitate healthy communications between the parties so the challenges which arise in the future can be met with respect, dignity and mutual regard.

An effective, durable cohabitation, premarital or prenuptial agreement requires careful attention to the negotiation process. Where both partners know their respective interests and concerns are acknowledged by the other and recognized in their agreement, there is less likelihood for misunderstanding, resentment or mistrust to result. Couples considering cohabitation, marriage or entering into a domestic partnership should begin the effort as early as possible in order to have adequate time to engage in the negotiation process required to lay a healthy foundation upon which to build their partnership.

Helon & Manfredo LLP provides comprehensive marital planning services, including guidance in matters of family law and estate planning. Our firm is uniquely suited to serve the couple in both aspects of marital planning within the same office. For more information or assistance, please call our office to schedule an appointment.