How Late Is Too Late To Sign A Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a written contract that two people enter into before they marry.  There are many reasons for these contracts. Frequently addressed are issues regarding financial assets accrued by each party before the marriage along with assets accrued jointly during the marriage.  Prenups commonly include provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce or death.

Timing is important when entering into a prenup.  Coming to a mutual agreement about the terms and conditions can sometimes take several weeks or months.  Should the prenup be signed no later than one month before the wedding, one week before, or is the night before acceptable?  While there are no set rules, signing at the last minute is not advisable.

A recent Florida case highlights the potential problems associated with signing a prenup at the last minute:

– A few weeks before their wedding, a future husband presented his fiance with a first draft of their prenup.

– Eleven days before the wedding, the fiance reviewed the draft with her attorney.  Her attorney identified some problems, advised against signing the agreement, and said she would contact the future husband’s attorney to address the issues.

–  The fiance did not communicate with her attorney again prior to the wedding.  Rather, she went on a brief vacation a few days before the wedding and reconnected with her future husband on the night before the wedding.  At that time, he gave his fiance a revised prenup and told her to get it signed in front of a notary.  Which is exactly what she did at 2 a.m. on the day of her wedding – without reading the agreement!

– Sadly, 7 years later, the wife sued for divorce and asked that the court deem the prenup invalid.  This case ultimately went to the appellate court which stated that the circumstances under which the agreement was signed suggested duress and coercion that could qualify as grounds for nullifying the prenup.

The lesson here is clear.  A prenup is supposed to clarify certain issues for a couple before they marry.  Signing off late may just muddy the waters and defeat that purpose.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga A. Goodman, can help you with all your estate planning needs.  Contact us today at 973-841-5111.

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