If you're getting remarried,
you've got plenty of company. About half of U.S.
marriages are remarriages, according to Margorie
Engel, expert council to the National Stepfamily
That can make things complicated because by the time
a second marriage rolls around, chances are one or both parties
have kids, assets and obligations, which they may or may not want
That means you and your spouse-to-be need
down with a financial planner to work out who owns
what, how to title assets and how to spend and save
And when you're done with that, you're only half done.
Before heading down the aisle, you also need to visit a lawyer.
Everyone has bright expectations going into a marriage.
But if you have obligations to kids or elderly parents, especially
if you or your partner has accumulated debts or savings, you need
a prenuptial agreement and a will.
Even then, "There are no guarantees," Engel
"The important thing is to figure out
what or who you want to protect," says Lynne Gold-Bikin, partner
in charge of the family law department of Wolf, Block, Schorr &
Solis-Cohen in Philadelphia. "You have to prioritize."
Conventional wisdom is that the bride and groom should
each have their own attorney for the prenup.
"To keep independent and avoid conflict of interest,
both parties should hire their own attorney," says David Bendix,
president of The Bendix Financial Group, a financial planning firm.
However you decide that you want your assets divided
"spell it out in the prenup," says Bendix. The same goes
for the will.
Many lawyers like to videotape the signing.
"If I represent a spouse who wants protection,
I want to ask certain questions," says Gold-Bikin. "'Are
you under the influence? Do you understand what you are signing?
Do you have a lawyer?'"
Best of all, she says, with a video witness of the
event one party can't change the story later.