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Prenuptial contracts can organize assets for cohabitating couples

Same-sex couples now have the legal right to marry anywhere in the United States, which is a wonderful step toward achieving the financial and contractual benefits offered by a legal marital classification. However, that status is only prospective, and may not accurately represent the various arrangements that a same-sex couple has been enjoying for years.

Specifically, marital property is generally defined as only those assets that were acquired during the marriage. Yet unmarried couples may have purchased many assets together. Accordingly, a couple that has lived together for some time before marrying may need to take additional steps to ensure that their marital status accurately reflects their lifestyle.

Ironically, a prenuptial agreement can be one way to achieve that consistency. Individuals may view prenuptial contracts as a safeguard in the event of divorce. Yet they are much more: They provide a legal method for defining the marital estate, as well as how each partner has supported the other. Individuals that have children from other relationships may also want to clarify those relationships, as well. Although child custody obligations are legally beyond the scope of a prenuptial agreement, estate-planning arrangements are properly included.

Our law firm has helped many couples clarify and organize their assets, investments and lifestyle arrangements with prenuptial agreements. In fact, these  benefits are also available to couples that are already married, via a postnuptial agreement. Prenuptial and postnuptial contracts can help to resolve potentially complex areas, such as pensions, retirement plans, whether the appreciation of certain assets will be included in the marital estate, and estate-planning goals.

Source: USA Today, “Experts' advice to same-sex couples: Get a prenup,” Kristine Guerra, Nov. 4, 2014

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