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Prenuptial and Property Settlement Agreements

West Chester attorney protects your assets prior to marriage and during divorce

Prenuptial or antenuptial agreements are different names for the same document. Years ago, prenuptial/antenuptial agreements were primarily used when a wealthy individual was trying to protect his or her family wealth from the new spouse or to protect and preserve assets for children of his or her first marriage.

After the passage of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code of 1980, in addition to protecting family wealth, prenuptial agreements are drafted prior to second marriages in order to protect premarital assets and the appreciation in value of these premarital assets during the second marriage. These premarital assets were often received in a distribution from the party’s previous divorce or even from an inheritance or gift. Prenuptial agreements are also often drafted to protect premarital assets for the children of a first marriage.

Demographic trends favor prenuptial agreements

Today, individuals are waiting until their later twenties or mid-thirties before they marry for the first time. By the time these individuals marry, the parties has established careers and may have accumulated substantial assets in his or her individual names often in the form of real estate, retirement plans or other investments. Today, younger clients are now signing prenuptial agreements to protect, in the event of divorce, their premarital assets and the appreciation in value of these premarital assets.

Prenuptial agreements are also especially important when the client either solely owns a premarital business or is a partner in a premarital business. Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, without a prenuptial agreement, any appreciation in value of a premarital business which accrues during the marriage is marital property. Having to pay a spouse for his or her share of the appreciation in value of a business which accrued during the marriage can also be devastating to the continuation of a business and the business partners. A prenuptial agreement is the legal device used to exclude a premarital business and its appreciation in value from the marital estate.

A prenuptial agreement may also be used to designate the property or even the percentage of marital property or alimony each party will receive in the event of a divorce. Thus, prior to marriage, each of the parties will have a realistic expectation of what each party would be financially entitled to in the event of divorce.

Can prenuptial agreements actually build trust in a marriage?

Some people opine that a prenuptial agreement takes the trust and romance out of marriage or that a prenuptial agreement presupposes a divorce will occur. In reality, a prenuptial agreement is an important financial planning device which can save substantial divorce litigation costs. A prenuptial agreement can alleviate unreasonable expectations in the event a divorce does occur.

Prenuptial agreements must be signed before the parties marry. A client should not expect that a comprehensive prenuptial agreement can be drafted and signed the week before the wedding. At least six months before the wedding, a client should begin the process of planning a prenuptial agreement. The client will need to address the various scenarios to which the prenuptial agreement will or will not apply. Time also needs to be allocated for the negotiation of any language changes requested by your intended.

One attorney cannot represent both parties in the drafting of a prenuptial agreement. Often the agreement goes back and forth between attorneys with a number of revisions. It is not fun to be discussing a prenuptial agreement while in the heat of wedding preparations or wedding festivities. It is better to have the signed prenuptial agreement behind you so that you are able to enjoy, if not the planning, the actual wedding festivities.

When choosing a prenuptial agreement attorney, experience matters

It is important to select an attorney who understands the intricacies of the law with regard to prenuptial agreements and who has extensive experience that comes from drafting a great number of complex and sophisticated prenuptial agreements. Linda L. MacElree (Lynn) has drafted substantial and complex prenuptial agreements protecting assets valued at Two Hundred Million Dollars ($200,000,000.00) or more. You want to trust your prenuptial agreement to an attorney who has drafted complex and high net worth agreements, and who thoroughly understands the ancillary issues of alimony, and equitable distribution. Lynn has over 30 years of knowledge and experience in drafting complex, sophisticated, high net worth prenuptial agreements.

© Copyright Linda L. MacElree 2013

Prenuptial agreements can simplify a later divorce settlement

Prenuptial agreements are invaluable in the event of a future divorce. Prior to a divorce being contemplated, premarital agreements can state what is and is not marital property. An experienced West Chester family law attorney can craft strong agreements that simplify the divorce process.

Meet with a skilled prenuptial agreement lawyer in West Chester, PA

Linda MacElree Esquire, LLC has decades of experience crafting strong prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Please call 610.344.7600 or contact our team to set up an initial consultation to discuss a prenuptial agreement with Lynn. From our office at 16 North New Street in West Chester, PA, we proudly serve individuals and families throughout Chester County. Consultations are charged at Lynn’s then-hourly rate.