I’m getting married – do I need a prenup?

Although they have been around in the United States for a long time, prenuptial agreements are now becoming increasingly popular in Scotland and across the United Kingdom.

They aren’t just for wealthy stars like Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, who are rumoured to have signed a ‘watertight’ prenup to protect their individual multi-million-dollar fortunes before they married earlier this year.

A prenup in Scotland will be recognised if it was fair and reasonable at the time it was entered into and can offer valuable peace of mind going into the future. Here’s what you need to know about signing a prenup.

What is a prenup or prenuptial agreement?

A prenup is a legal document signed by both partners before they get married or enter into a civil partnership. It sets out how a couple’s assets should be divided in the unfortunate event that they split up. It aims to protect any assets that an individual may have built up before they got married or to protect an inheritance or assets for children from a previous relationship. In some circumstances, a prenuptial agreement will not be required, but it is worthwhile taking prenuptial advice to find out your position.

Why should I sign one?

With around 40 percent of marriages in the UK ending in divorce, entering into an agreement over finances and assets in the event the marriage fails makes sense. It might not seem very romantic, but it can be a cost effective, practical measure that avoids complex financial legal wrangling should the worst happen.

These days people are also marrying later, or entering into their second or third marriages, and often have children with previous partners. Usually, people will want their children to inherit all or part of their assets, rather than just their partner, so putting their intentions in writing before getting married can assist.

Entering into a joint agreement with your partner about what will happen if the marriage or civil partnerships ends limits potential surprises. A prenuptial agreement is not always necessary and it is worthwhile taking advice on your own position to ascertain whether or not it is in your interest to enter into one.

It’s important to note that the assets of married couple and those in civil partnerships are treated differently under the law than couples who are co-habiting.

Do I need legal advice?

Both partners should obtain their own independent legal advice before signing any prenuptial agreement. This ensures that both individuals’ interests are safeguarded. A solicitor will also be able to help you identify what you want to achieve from a prenup, and how best to legally accommodate your wishes.

If you don’t have a prenup, you can also sign a ‘postnuptial agreement’ to allocate your assets after you have been married.

At McSherry Halliday we have a team of professional solicitors who can help you plan for your financial future. We can advise you on how best to protect your assets so you can worry less about tomorrow and enjoy today.