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Should I sign a prenuptial agreement before marrying?

Some New York City residents may hesitate to draw up and sign prenuptial agreements before marrying because they feel that it kills the romance. However, with the rate of divorce being one in three for first marriages, and fully half of second and third weddings winding up in divorce court, it is a savvy business decision that can be the smartest financial planning you can do.

One author and financial adviser in the city says that it helps to "[t]hink of it as a business arrangement or as an insurance policy" that can actually "help ensure the financial well-being of the marriage."

Pre-nups have been around for thousands of years, originating with royal families in the Far East and Europe who intended to protect their family's wealth and resources for posterity. While it may not be particularly romantic for the bride and groom to enter into a binding contract determining the disposition of assets in a divorce or upon the death of the parties, it makes good business sense.

Some people believe only the fabulously wealthy need a pre-nup, but that is far from the case. Prospective life partners need these legal accords in the following cases:

-- Those with children or grandchildren from another marriage or union

-- Anyone who owns stock, a pension plan, a home or an interest in a business

-- Those who may inherit from others

-- One or both partners is responsible for caring for a dependent adult or aging parents

-- There is a great disparity between the wealth of the marrying parties

-- One will be working to support the other's education

-- There is a potential for one of the parties to suddenly have a significant jump in income

-- One of the parties will be a degreed professional with a lucrative career, like a doctor or stockbroker

Because it can be a difficult subject to broach, it shouldn't be done at the 11th hour on the eve of the wedding, with a "sign it or else" attitude. The matter should be discussed candidly and early on in the wedding plans.

To make sure your interests are protected, consult with a New York legal professional who can tailor the contract to meet your specific needs.

Source: Bankrate.com, "Everything you need to know about prenuptial agreements" Nov. 13, 2014

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