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Prenuptial agreements:
Approaching the subject

So how does one broach this touchy subject? First, do it as early as possible. The mention of a prenup shouldn't come as a surprise if you and your sweetheart have been open with each other as the relationship became serious.

Nancy Dunnan, a New York City financial adviser and author, recommends couples talk it over before the engagement. "Let your intended know you believe these agreements are important and that you'd like to go over the topic."

Second, the discussion must be honest. "You have to be real candid about why you want the agreement. It's not very romantic, but you have to appreciate what the other party's concerns are," says Michael McDonough, a Palm Beach County, Fla., lawyer who specializes in matrimonial and family law.

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The first step in the prenup process should be to sit down with your sweetie and reach an agreement about what, in general, you want the contract to say. "Draw up your list of assets and talk about it before you hire the lawyers," suggests Zwack. "You won't know the specific laws, but have a concept in mind."

Doing that can save you money. Fees for prenups depend on how long they take to draft. Hourly wages for attorneys can go from $300 to $500 an hour on the East and West coasts. In the Midwest, you might be able to get away with $100 to $125 an hour. Ask your attorney at the first meeting what the anticipated charges will be.

Next, hire separate attorneys. To help ensure an enforceable agreement, both parties need their own lawyers. Many a prenup has been thrown out because an aggrieved spouse did not have legal representation. The attorneys co-write the agreement with their clients' best interests in mind.

Not for rich only A valid prenup

--Posted: June 15, 1999

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See Also
What's a prenup?
Who should have one?
Approaching the subject
Signs of a valid prenup
Follow proper legal procedures
Keeping the prenup up to date
Legal benefits of having a prenup
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