17th Sep 2010
A prenuptial agreement sets out the property rights between the partners to a pending marriage, i.e., what will be their community property (what they own together), and what will be their separate property (what one of them owns separate from their partner).
Because California is a community property state, a prenuptial agreement makes it clear what their legal rights are vis-a-vis the property, and if one of the partners in the marriage passes away, the rights of the survivor can be clearly determined.
A well-written prenuptial agreement lays a foundation for the preparation of a living trust or family trust: The trust can then set forth what the estate consists of, and how the specific assets are to be distributed on the death of one of the partners.
Using a prenuptial agreement in combination with an estate plan such as a living trust or family trust is commonly used in second or third marriages, where the couple each has children from a prior marriage who they wish to protect and benefit in their respective estate plans.
Also, first time marriages where one of the partners is a co-owner in a family business is another common situation where a prenuptial agreement can be helpful.
Prenuptial agreements are not for everyone, but in certain cases, combined with a well-crafted estate plan, it protects the various family relationships that are involved.
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DWIGHT EDWARD TOMPKINS
Attorney at Law
This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice from a qualified estate planning attorney in your jurisdiction.