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Prenuptial agreements useful even for those of modest wealth

When many people think of prenuptial agreements, they assume they are only useful to those who are wealthy and stand to lose a lot in divorce. While it is certainly true that prenuptial agreements are in greater use among the wealthy, such agreements can certainly benefit those of more modest wealth.

There are a variety of circumstances, other than being very wealthy, in which it may be wise for couples to consider a prenuptial agreement. One common situation is when one or both parties are professionals who own businesses, such as a law practice or a medical clinic. Because divorce can leave ownership interests in a business exposed, it is critical to prepare for the possibility before marriage.

Similarly, depending on the state you live in, professional licenses can be considered marital property in divorce. Though the value of professional licenses is determined differently in different cases, a lot of money can be at stake unless licenses are effectively removed from the chopping block in the event of divorce.

Prenuptial agreements can also be useful for making it clear what debt belongs to who in the event of divorce and for keeping inherited assets separate. Though inherited assets are usually considered separate property anyway, inheritances are sometimes addressed to both parties or commingled later on with the non-inheriting spouse's assets-in which case they become marital property.

Because prenuptial agreements are so versatile, they can be useful in a variety of circumstances, such that even couples without significant wealth should consider them a potential tool to protect themselves in divorce. As always, though it is important to work with an experienced attorney throughout the process.

Source: Mainstree.com, "Why You Need a Prenup to Marry Even If You Think You're Poor," Marc Levy, October 24, 2014.

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