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Should young couples have prenuptial agreements?

Communication is key in any relationship, especially in marriage. Newlywed couples enter a different world after saying their vows. They will make big life decisions together, like buying a house, switching jobs and having children.

Often, young couples do not give premarital agreements a second thought. Maybe they both just finished school, earned a degree and now are headed down a new career path. If prenuptial agreements are about assets - and you do not have any yet - why would you need one right now? 

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement, is a written contract couples sign before they get married. This contract usually specifics each spouse's property and debts, in case of a divorce.

A common misconception in society concerns who should have this type of agreement. When some people think of a prenup, they picture a wealthy older couple in their second marriage, with stocks, cars, property and other high value assets.

This simply is not true. All engaged couples benefit from a prenuptial agreement.

Why? Because money is money, no matter how much you have.

Why should you have one?

Prenuptial agreements cover an array of issues. Some couples may want to pool their income, while other couples prefer separate bank accounts. For the most part, it is a good base for communication going forward. Money management is an important aspect of any marriage, and it's beneficial to be on the same page earlier than later.

Reasons young couples should consider prenups include:

  • Debt: About 44 million Americans hold student loans. There is a more-than-likely chance either you or your spouse is submitting monthly payments for college debt. Debt accumulated during the marriage is considered community property. If you were to separate, both of you could be responsible for each other's credit cards, car loans, mortgages and more.
  • Property: Young couples might not own a countryside mansion or lake home, but that does not mean they come into marriage without property. You might have some money in a savings account, or a piano gifted by your late grandmother. This is considered your property, and you might want to ensure it stays that way. A prenup will clarify this from the very beginning.
  • Divorce: No one goes into a marriage expecting it to end. But it never hurts to talk about finances. The future holds a lot of unknowns. A prenup is a preparation. It establishes what should happen in the case problems arise. It is a decision most couples do not regret.

Conversations about money might be uncomfortable in the beginning. But a prenuptial agreement can protect you from your spouse's debt, clarify financial and property rights and overall make a possible divorce process smoother.

Without a prenup, your state's laws determine who gets what in the event of a death or divorce. For most people, this is not ideally how they want to divide their debts or assets. Signing this agreement does not imply you expect for the marriage to end. It is just financially responsible moving forward.

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