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What to Do Before "I Do"

Cover of What to Do Before "I Do"

What to Do Before "I Do"

The Modern Couple’s Guide to Marriage, Money and Prenups
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The cake has been chosen, the reception hall reserved, and all the attire ordered. Creating a marriage contract is probably the last thing on your mind. However, by working with your spouse-to-be to...More
The cake has been chosen, the reception hall reserved, and all the attire ordered. Creating a marriage contract is probably the last thing on your mind. However, by working with your spouse-to-be to...More
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Description-
  • The cake has been chosen, the reception hall reserved, and all the attire ordered. Creating a marriage contract is probably the last thing on your mind. However, by working with your spouse-to-be to design your particular marriage contract, you control the relationship and direct your future.

    What to Do Before "I Do" takes the potentially unromantic idea of a prenuptial agreement and makes you see its importance to your relationship. Proper planning will answer questions such as—

    Will your child continue to be cared for in the manner you wish if you pass away?

    Is your fiancé's debt your responsibility?

    Can your wife claim your premarital property in a divorce?

    People often enter marriage with only a vague understanding of their partner's financial status. Even if you decide against a prenuptial agreement, after reading this book, you will realize how important it is to go into a marriage with your eyes wide open.

Excerpts-
  • From the book Doing it Right: Seven Rules for a Rock-Solid Prenup

    If you and your spouse-to-be decide that a prenuptial agreement makes sense in your case, it is not enough simply to scribble your understanding down on a scrap piece of paper. Rather, you must follow certain established rules when negotiating and memorializing your agreement. This chapter explains the seven most important rules for a rock-solid prenuptial agreement. If you ignore these rules, you could end up with a prenuptial agreement that would never stand up in court.

    Rule #1: Put your prenuptial agreement in writing and make sure you and your spouse-to-be both sign it. You might think it is unnecessary to have a formal prenuptial agreement in place, specifying each spouse’s rights in the event of debt, divorce, and death. Why can’t you and your loved one simply sit down and reach an understanding on your own without going through all the bother and expense of having lawyers put it in writing? The answer is simple. Most courts will not enforce a prenuptial agreement unless it is in writing and signed by both spouses.

    Example
    Russ and his fiancé, Charlotte, were both musicians who shared a love of jazz and a strong distaste for lawyers. Before they married, they had a long heart-to-heart about the not-so-romantic practical side of marriage—death, divorce, debt, and money in general. Charlotte and Russ agreed that if they ever divorced, they would divide everything they earned while they were married equally between them. Russ and Charlotte also promised to rewrite their wills to leave their entire estates to one another. Neither Russ nor Charlotte discussed their agreement with a lawyer and they did not bother to write anything down. Both of them felt that their word was enough.

    Charlotte rewrote her will, just as she had promised. But Russ never got around to rewriting his before he was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. Charlotte learned from the lawyer for Russ’s estate that his will made no mention of her whatsoever. Because the prenuptial agreement that she and Russ had agreed to was not in writing, there was no way for Charlotte to enforce Russ’s promise to rewrite his will to leave her all his assets. Charlotte was therefore entitled to nothing more than her elective share of Russ’s estate—which, in their state, was only one third of his estate. The remainder of Russ’s estate went to Russ’s parents, who were the only people named in his will.

    Rule #2: Hire a lawyer to advise you on your prenuptial agreement and make sure that your spouse-to-be does the same. You might be tempted to save on legal fees and enter into a do-it-yourself prenuptial agreement with your loved one. Though you might consider this biased advice (since it is coming from someone who makes her living practicing matrimonial law), not hiring a lawyer for the purposes of your prenuptial agreement is penny-wise and pound foolish.

    Lawyers serve several important purposes in the context of prenuptial agreements. Your lawyer will:

    - explain your legal rights to you and help you understand how your prenuptial agreement will affect those rights;
    - keep you from signing an agreement that is overly lopsided in favor of your spouse-to-be;
    - provide you with bargaining power by negotiating better terms on your behalf;
    - help you comply with the financial disclosure requirements (see Rule #3);
    - make sure that you receive appropriate financial disclosure from your spouse-to-be; and,
    - take all necessary steps to ensure that your prenuptial agreement will stand up in court.
About the Author-
  • Nihara K. Choudhri, Esq. is a graduate of Columbia Law School. She is the author of The Complete Guide to Divorce Law (Kensington Books 2004), and the divorce law expert for ivillage.com.

    When she’s not busy writing and lawyering, Nihara spends her time chasing her toddler son, Aman, through Central Park. She and her husband, Trin, have been married for seven years—and they hope to be blessed with seventy more wonderful years together.

    Nihara has a few simple words of wisdom for soon-to-be-newlyweds: Plan for every possibility, but hope for the very best—and may the joys of married life exceed even your wildest expectations.
Table of Contents-
  • Introduction -

    A Quick Note to Readers

    Chapter One. For Richer, For Poorer:Debt and the Married Couple
    The Deal with Debt
    Know What You are Getting Into
    Joint Debt
    Marital Debt
    Tax Liability

    Chapter Two. For Better, For Worse: Till Divorce Do Us Part
    The State of Divorce
    The Grounds for Divorce
    The Basics of Marital Property Division
    Understanding Marital Property
    Understanding Separate Property
    The Division of Marital Property
    Special Categories of Marital Property
    Spousal Support

    Chapter Three. Till Death Do Us Part: Prenups and Estate Planning
    An Overview of Estate Law
    Dying Without a Will
    When Your Spouse Can Rewrite Your Will
    Life Insurance
    QTIP Trusts

    Chapter Four. Writing Your Own Vows: The Prenuptial Agreement
    The Upsides of Prenups
    The Downsides of Prenups
    When You Should Seriously Consider a Prenup

    Chapter Five. Doing it Right: Seven Rules for a Rock-Solid Prenup
    Rule #1: Put your prenuptial agreement in writing and make sure you and your spouse-to-be both
    sign it
    Rule #2: Hire a lawyer to advise you on your prenuptial agreement and make sure that your
    spouse-to-be does the same
    Rule #3: Provide your spouse-to-be with the complete details of your personal finances and ask
    for the same in return
    Rule #4: Do not force your spouse-to-be to enter into a prenuptial agreement
    Rule #5: Take care of your prenuptial agreement well in advance of your wedding
    Rule #6: Make sure that your prenuptial agreement is fair to your spouse-to-be
    Rule #7: Update your prenuptial agreement regularly during your marriage

    Chapter Six. Anatomy of a Prenup: Topics to Consider
    Divorce Provisions
    Death Provisions
    Money Management Provisions
    Insurance Provisions
    Lifestyle and Other Miscellaneous Provisions

    Chapter Seven. Putting It all Together: A Sample Prenuptial Agreement -
    An Introduction to Zack and Skye
    Zack and Skye’s Financial Disclosure
    The Terms of Zack and Skye’s Prenuptial Agreement
    The Final Document: Zack and Skye’s Prenuptial Agreement

    Chapter Eight. After the Honeymoon: A Postscript about Postnups
    When to Consider a Postnup

    Glossary

    Appendix A. State-by-State Summary of Probate Laws

    Appendix B. State-by-State Summary of Divorce Laws

    Index

    About the Author -
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What to Do Before "I Do"
The Modern Couple’s Guide to Marriage, Money and Prenups
Nihara K. Choudhri
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The Modern Couple’s Guide to Marriage, Money and Prenups
Nihara K. Choudhri
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