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Do most couples need a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document between two soon-to-be spouses that can specify asset distribution, alimony and other important matters in the event the couple divorces later on. Prenups are becoming more common. In fact, a survey published in 2013 of 1,600 attorneys that were members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers showed that 63 percent of the attorneys had seen an uptick in the number of prenuptial agreements in the three years prior.

A prenup may usually be thought of as something used when a couple a divorces; however, there is another occurrence in which a prenup may be useful -- a spouse's death. This agreement can help determine which members of the family get what assets in case of a spouse's death. This can be very helpful when there are children from a previous marriage involved.

The experts, however, seem torn on whether prenups are needed or are even a good thing for some couples. One expert believes that prenups can damage a relationship before the wedding even takes place. The spouse who doesn't have all of the assets that the other spouse has can end up feeling as though he or she got the short end of the stick.

Another expert, though, feels that prenups can help protect important assets that are to go to children from a previous marriage, and help prevent ugly divorce proceedings and protect inheritances yet to come.

Each couple will have their own issues to address in a prenup, and each spouse should have his or her own attorney review any prenup before signing it. A Pennsylvania attorney experienced in family law can provide more information.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Is a Prenup a Must for Most Couples?" Mar. 01, 2015

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