If you are planning to spend the rest of your life with someone, you owe it to both parties to have conversations about what your future spouse thinks should happen with your assets and income if you end up divorced or separated. You should talk about how you are going to handle your estate planning to confirm that you are on the same page. And if you are on the same page, then you can confirm it in a written agreement.

When you are preparing to discuss executing a prenuptial agreement, you should think about what you would like to accomplish with this document. As an attorney, it is my responsibility to help you reach those goals effectively and explain the types of things that you can and cannot do with a prenuptial agreement.

If one of the directions that you are leaning toward is providing for the disposition of property in the event of your death, you should coordinate a prenuptial agreement with the preparation of your Will and Powers of Attorney. 

If one of your intentions is to plan for what would happen in the event of divorce or separation, then we want to give special attention to your rights under the Divorce Code and see what needs to be addressed in that area.  You should learn what equitable distribution is.  You should talk with an attorney about alimony, alimony pendente lite, support rights, etc.  To make sure the agreement accomplishes your goals, you may need to discuss this throughout the course of your work in preparing an appropriate agreement for you and your future spouse. 

With regard to disclosure to your future spouse, you should include a schedule of your assets, liabilities and income.  As to your assets, you should have a general description and an approximate value.  You should also compile a list of current liabilities.  Full disclosure also means prospective or acquired inheritances, probable increase in future income or anything else that might bear on your intended spouse’s willingness to enter into the prenuptial agreement. 

In making sure that the schedule is accurate, you might want to refer to income tax returns, partnership or corporate tax returns, bank records, pension plans, W-2 forms, documentation of stock owned, title company statements as to real estate, personal financial statements or insurance policies.  More documentation is always better.  You can never really have too much documentation to verify your financial picture.  One would hope that it is never an issue in the future but knowing how you arrived at the financial valuation could be an extensive area of inquiry.

It is important for you to also understand that the state of the law in Pennsylvania is constantly changing.  Although attorneys will attempt to draft the tightest document possible, there are really no guarantees based upon changes in the law that may occur in the future.

If you live or work in the central Pennsylvania area, including Carlisle, Harrisburg, Hershey and surrounding communities and would like to discuss prenuptial agreements or any other family law or estate planning/administration issue, please contact me.