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Who's up for a prenup?

So you know you need a prenup, but how do you broach it? As one 38-year-old groom puts it: "I know it's the right thing to do, but try actually doing it."

There's still a certain stigma attached to the prenup, as though the person who raises the issue doesn't have faith in the partnership.

Experts say the issue should be raised the moment a relationship gets serious. In other words, let your partner know where you stand before you pop the question. During the harried days of wedding planning, broaching the subject can add to your stress. It makes sense if both partners know what they're getting in to from the outset. If a potential spouse balks at the idea, you need to explore the reasons why.

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You can soften the blow by pointing out that a prenup is in the best interest of both parties. In addition, remind a reluctant partner that prenups can also be looked at as an estate planning tool, which comes in handy if either partner has children from a previous marriage.

Another thing to consider is a sunset clause, which means the prenup expires after a stipulated time period. In other words, if a marriage hits the 10-year mark, a couple might decide this entitles them to equal rights to all assets.

Hire a lawyer or DIY?
While scribbling down the terms and sealing it with a kiss might seem like a good idea, there is a certain process to follow. Both parties need to have their own lawyer, otherwise the agreement can be declared invalid.

Start planning early because it can take up to six months to finalize conditions. Green recalls getting a phone call one morning from a man in a hurry to draft a prenup -- he was getting married that afternoon.

To expedite the process, both parties should disclose to each other all financial information and have a good idea of what they want in the agreement before sitting down with a lawyer. If one partner does not fully disclose their information, the agreement will be invalid.

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-- Posted: July 4, 2008
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