Children/assets from a previous marriage

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
Children and assets from a previous marriage are often of frequent concern to persons planning their estate. These children and assets can be addressed through the signing of pre-nuptial agreements, also known as premarital and ante-nuptial agreements. These documents allow the prospective spouses to settle certain property rights before the marriage and insure the proper disbursement of assets in the event of divorce or death of one spouse. The prenuptial agreement's provisions attempt to keep certain or all property brought into the marriage completely separate from the new spouse. For example, if you decide to make certain that the bulk of your estate goes to your children from a previous marriage, the prenuptial can allow that, provided the title to those assets remains solely in your name. Prenuptial agreements may be modified or revoked; however, these changes must be in writing and signed by both parties. If no pre-nuptial agreement exists, a married couple may elect to draw up a post-nuptial agreement, a document created after the marriage that may contain the same terms and conditions of a prenuptial agreement. Be aware that if you and your spouse place all your assets in joint ownership, the surviving spouse will take the property, regardless of what the prenuptial agreement states. To ensure that a prenuptial agreement remains valid, it's often best to hire an attorney to draft the agreement. Also make certain both parties disclose all assets and liabilities; otherwise, the agreement may be challenged in court and declared unenforceable. Each potential spouse should also consider hiring his or her own separate attorney to either draft or review the document. Your own will takes precedence over any prenuptial agreement as it waives any right to elect against the other spouse's will. Also, in cases where there's no will, the prenuptial agreement will specify that each spouse waive any right to any share in the other spouse's solely owned property.

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