Give yourself plenty of time to work out the prenup,
and read it thoroughly.
"Some people are signing
prenuptial agreements, literally, on the day of
the wedding in their wedding gown," says Kathleen
A. Miller, president of Miller Advisers Inc. and
author of "Fair
Share Divorce for Women."
The most common mistakes that remarried people make
are not changing the beneficiary designations on various
accounts and insurance policies -- and
not titling assets properly.
The more complicated your life is, with businesses,
first marriages, second marriages and children, the more careful
you have to be in enunciating exactly what you want.
Engel warns that, despite the frequency of remarriage,
courts don't recognize stepchildren as heirs. If you want to leave
assets to a stepchild, put the child's name in your will and mention
the heirs by name repeatedly, instead of using generic terms like
"children" or "heirs."
Want to control exactly where your money goes? If
you have older kids, Bendix recommends gifting. Alone, you can give
a child $10,000 each year -- or $20,000 if you do it as a couple.
But clearly this option is not for everyone. Gifting
is only for "When parents have more than enough money and they
want their kids to enjoy it now," he says.
One danger, usually for women, comes when one spouse
decides to stay home with the kids. If the marriage breaks up, not
only has she lost potential income and career training, but retirement
savings as well.
And in a divorce, it's much more difficult to demonstrate
contributions to the household without a pay stub. If a bride or
groom is considering staying home, the prenup should compensate
the spouse for everything he or she will be giving up.
Another big mistake is commingling
money. If you want to make a case for keeping something
for you or your side of the family -- keep it separate.
If it's something you're still making payments on, like
a home or a car, "don't use common earnings to
support that," Miller says.
Financial advisers and attorneys recommend that the
bride and groom become very familiar with their partner's finances.
Some even recommend running a credit history.
"I would want an audited financial statement
and a credit report, if I could," Miller says.