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Getting Married Later in Life: Should You Have a Prenup?

There’s nothing romantic about a prenuptial agreement. Signing one may indicate to your spouse that you don’t have faith that the marriage will last—or that you don’t trust them to behave fairly in the event of a divorce. But if the worst happens and you do get divorced, there are some situations in which you will be very glad you signed a prenup. In addition, even if you’re sure the marriage will last, prenuptial agreements can protect your assets in the case of your death. Here are a few reasons why those marrying later in life should consider signing a prenup.

Older people often have more assets going into marriage

Prenup

Getting a prenup signed may not be the most romantic idea. But it can be a smart one, particularly if one of you has a lot of debt, a lot of money, or a small business.

When you get married later in life, both you and your future spouse are likely to enter the marriage with significant individual resources—both of you may own a house, for example, and you both may have retirement accounts, investments, and savings accounts you wouldn’t have had when you are young. Younger people often enter marriage with considerably less and have less to lose if they divorce.

Prenups protect your assets when you die

You may have certain assumptions for how your assets will be distributed when you pass on—but without a prenuptial agreement, your assets may not be distributed as you would like. It is possible for the surviving spouse to override your estate plan when you die. A prenup assures that your heirs can’t be cut out of the will or be refused any of the benefits you planned to leave them.  

One of you may have more in assets than the other

It’s always a good idea to protect your assets in the case of divorce if you have significantly more money going into the partnership than your future spouse does. It’s possible that in a divorce, your spouse could lay claim to a large portion of what you’ve worked for—and while it may not be a very romantic thought, people in this situation who divorced without a prenup often wished they had signed one.

One of you may have more debt than the other

The longer you live, the more time you have to rack up debt—or pay it off. It’s not uncommon for two people with distinctly different levels of debt to get married. And if that’s the case, it’s smart to draw up a prenuptial agreement assigning responsibility for the debt to the appropriate spouse in the event of a divorce. If you don’t, you may find yourself partially responsible for your spouse’s debt if the worst happens.

One of you owns a business

You may enter into marriage owning your own business—or maybe your future spouse does. If that’s the case, signing a prenup is a good idea. A prenup can protect the earnings from your business in the event of a divorce. If you don’t have one, your spouse may feel entitled to a significant fraction of the earnings from your business—even if the spouse wasn’t involved in its operations.

Getting a prenup signed may not be the most romantic idea. But it can be a smart one, particularly if one of you has a lot of debt, a lot of money, or a small business. A prenup protects your assets in the case of a divorce, but it can also make sure your heirs get what you want them to—regardless of the intentions of your surviving spouse’s side of the family. It may be a good idea to bring up the prenuptial agreement either well before the wedding or a bit after—to avoid spoiling the romantic mood. But if you and your spouse can discuss these types of delicate financial decisions openly, it bodes well for your relationship.