Preparing for the Future, Whatever it Holds: Prenups and Wills
Planning for the end
By M. J. Goodwin
Half of all marriages end in divorce; the other half ends in death. This statement is true, sad, and maybe a little funny. What a good lawyer will tell you is that both divorce and death are smoother with a little advance planning. So what can you do?
A prenup is a document drawn up prior to a marriage. This document, when done correctly, is a legally binding contract that sets out what happens with regard to assets (stuff and money) and alimony (money) in the event your marriage ends in divorce, as half of them do. Most people are offended at the thought of being asked to sign a prenup. But maybe that is short sighted. A prenup does not necessarily mean that the one who has all the money keeps all the money, though that may be the document’s intention. A well drafted prenup, reviewed with a lawyer that has no relationship with the “wealthy” part of the couple, can actually provide financial protection for the less wealthy spouse. A prenup requires full disclosure of both parties’ assets and liabilities and should be reviewed by an independent attorney.
A last will and testament, or will, provides for distribution of assets upon a person’s death. These documents can also get a bad rap. Nobody wants to think about dying. But it’s coming for all of us. Make it easier on those you leave behind by making a will. Once you do it, you gain a peace of mind, in my opinion. Drafting a simple will is probably more affordable than you think it is. Once you have made a will, keep it in a safe place and let your family know where that is.
Other documents that can help you and your loved ones plan for the future are: living wills and power of attorneys.
In all of the above situations, be sure to find a good lawyer with whom you are comfortable.