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Prenups: for many, increased popularity across a broad spectrum

"Til death do us part" is a hopeful and even honorable sentiment for couples tying the marital knot who -- at the outset of marriage -- are resolute in their desire to create an enduring union.

Unfortunately, in Colorado and all other states across the country, high hopes of eternal wedded bliss often confront irreconcilable differences that can over time undermine the best of intentions and fatally fracture a marriage.

For increasing numbers of Americans, a well-considered and carefully crafted prenuptial agreement that was negotiated and executed prior to marriage can serve a couple well in a divorce. The stigma once attached to such agreements as marriage breakers in the minds of many people has been largely displaced by a view that a marital contract is predominantly a planning device of high utility.

And, indeed, that is precisely what it is, with a prenup serving to help a couple identify what is important to them in marriage and to account for particular assets -- realty, a business, art, jewelry, inheritances -- in a specific way (please see our April 11, 2013, blog post).

Although the central role that a prenuptial contract can play in the realm of property division is quite clear, many planning experts are now also noting that prenups are being increasingly utilized as estate planning tools. That is especially true for baby boomer couples that are marrying relatively late or for a second or subsequent time.

For many of those people, such an agreement can help protect assets and property brought into a marriage for later use by children from prior marriages.

Unlike a will, a prenup is a legal contract, meaning that its provisions can trump those of a will if a dispute arises. Owing to that potentiality, executed marital contracts and estate planning documents need to be carefully coordinated.

A family law attorney with proven experience in property division matters and the drafting of marital contracts -- both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements -- can answer questions and help a client secure planning goals.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Prenups and estate planning," Liz Moyer, Nov. 15, 2013

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