Category: Prenuptial Agreements
Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Full Financial Disclosure Attorneys Brick NJ
As couples wait longer to get married, each person in the relationship has established their own income and assets singularly.
Frequently, a prenuptial agreement is put in place to protect those assets obtained individually before the marriage. Historically, prenups were usually seen as a way for wealthy people to protect themselves from “gold diggers,” but they are relevant to a much broader population in reality. Another common misconception is that prenups are divisive. In truth, they present an opportunity to understand each other’s financial expectations and give the marriage a healthy start. Conversely, settling financial arrangements after a relationship has soured can be an acrimonious and expensive proposition. A prenuptial agreement can ease the monetary stress that weighs on many marriages because it makes the financial future certain even if the marriage is not.
Why Do You Need A Prenuptial Agreement?
Often, a prospective spouse plans to sacrifice education, job training, or a promising or established career in furtherance of the marriage and family. If you are planning to make such a sacrifice, a prenuptial agreement can help you safeguard your financial future. If you have family property you wish to keep separate; this can be accomplished with a prenup. If you are entering into a second or third marriage or marriage later in life, you likely have hard-earned assets (e.g., a professional practice) and children to protect. A premarital agreement can protect those assets and set aside property for your children.
When a marriage ends in divorce, property acquired during the marriage (“marital property”) and even some property acquired before the marriage (“separate property”) will be divided equally or equitably, depending on state family law statutes. When a married person dies, most states give the surviving spouse one-third to one-half of the estate, even if they will say otherwise. However, the terms of a valid prenuptial agreement usually supersede the state divorce and estate laws.
Are All Prenups Enforceable When One Spouse Dies?
Typically, yes, they are. In a recent decision In the Matter of the Estate of James J. Gillette, the enforcement of a prenuptial agreement upon the husband’s death is addressed when the wife sought to invalidate the agreement to claim her elective share from his estate in lieu of the terms of the agreement. The case tells us that the rules for prenuptial agreement enforcement upon a spouse’s death are the same as they would be in the event of divorce.
In this case, the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement on August 29, 2013, before their marriage in November 2013. Both parties had independent counsel. They affixed their full financial disclosure schedules to the prenuptial agreement and acknowledged within the document they had time to review the agreement with their respective counsel. The parties agreed to share in certain assets, keep premarital assets separate, and waive their right to an elective share of the other spouse’s estate.
The husband passed away on April 21, 2017. The wife received the proper notice of probate on May 11, 2017. She had six months to seek to enforce her elective share. However, she did not file a complaint until July 12, 2018 – fourteen months after the probate notice. As part of her complaint, the wife sought to invalidate the prenuptial agreement, claiming that the husband did not provide full financial disclosure. This is the key to the entire case.
The wife claimed that she was never provided full disclosure of her husband’s earnings, property, assets, and financial obligations and did not have the benefit of independent counsel at the time of the signing of the prenuptial agreement.
However, it was found that not only did she have an attorney, but both of their signatures are on the financial records of her soon-to-be spouse. The financial statement identified a list of assets with approximate values. His disclosure was complete and accepted by her. The wife had the benefit of the husband’s financial statement attached. The wife acknowledged that she read and understood the agreement within the agreement and had the necessary time to discuss the same with counsel to the agreement.
Do You Want To Know More? Reach out to a Monmouth and Ocean County PreNup Attorney
If you have questions about prenuptial or civil union agreements or need assistance in negotiating a prenuptial agreement under New Jersey law, at the Bronzino Law Firm, attorneys are prepared to guide you every step of the way. While no one enters into a marriage thinking of its end, our lawyers know that a divorce or death can have far-ranging effects on our clients’ lives. We work diligently to ensure that our clients take the right steps to plan and avoid costly, extended, and unpleasant litigation.
Divorce Proceedings and Mediation Attorneys in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Contrary to popular belief, divorce mediation is not utilized as an attempt to reconcile the relationship.
Divorce is a complicated matter. Even couples whose relationship is amicable must navigate the rocky terrain of fair division of marital assets and, in the case of couples who share children, custodial arrangements. When separation is mutual or both parties are willing to work together to ensure an expedited and respectful process, they sometimes decide to use private mediation to facilitate their divorce proceedings, instead of the more traditional litigation, handled by the New Jersey Superior Court system.
What is divorce mediation?
A divorce mediator is not a couples therapist. The ins and outs of a spousal relationship are of no concern to the office of mediation. A divorce mediator is an uninterested third party who serves to facilitate the legal divorce proceedings. In order for mediation to be a viable option for a divorcing couple, each spouse must be an active participant in respectful collaboration. Mediation is often considered a less-costly alternative to litigation, but this is only because, during divorce mediation, a couple’s negotiation involves less fighting and more getting down to the business of separating assets and ensuring that each spouse’s quality of life post-divorce is in comparable to the marital quality of life.
The importance of quality representation
Using a divorce mediator does not mean that you and your spouse will not each have your own attorney. While the mediator facilitates the private separation, much like a judge would in a public court setting, it is imperative that you are represented by an experienced divorce attorney so that the mediator has all the information they need to properly distribute assets, so you are ensured your fair share. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that all marital assets and debts – the savings, properties, vehicles, valuable items, and unpaid expenses you and your spouse accumulate following your marriage – are fairly distributed in the divorce.
Like a judge, a divorce mediator will use the documentation of assets provided by both parties to determine what fair distribution is. The support of an attorney will support you in making sure that you have properly accounted for all assets and make a strong argument as to the quality of life you expect to uphold following the divorce. An attorney can also help to ensure that your spouse does not withhold assets that are rightfully yours to share, doing the due diligence necessary for complete and fair distribution. Again, mediation is typically undergone by couples who are on speaking terms and actively open in the mediation process. However, the expertise and experience of a legal representative will keep oversight – accidental and otherwise – from affecting your right to receive the divorce arrangement you deserve.
So could mediation be an option for a couple that is not on the best of terms? Yes. The key element of divorce mediation is the mutual agreement of each party to participate. A divorce mediator is trained in facilitating a collaborative environment that services the best interests of both parties and any involved children. A mediator is aware that even the most amicable couples will be affected by the emotional nature of a divorce and division of sometimes sentimental assets, as well as the formalization of the death of a relationship. As such, they will take the time necessary to ensure that each spouse is on the same page and in agreement at each stage of the process. That said, while emotional barriers and arguments in the negotiation are par for the course, if you and your spouse have a history of abuse or other unresolved traumas, or if you don’t see eye to eye about what is “fair” in terms of the divorce, mediation may not be for you. Conflicts that arise may not be reconciled by a mediator, and in this case, litigation before a judge will be the necessary next step.
Similarly, a mediator can help facilitate the process of coming to custodial arrangements and New Jersey-mandated parenting time schedules, to be finalized by the Superior Court: Family Part. However, if there are deep divisions in perspective about what is in the best interest of the children, completing the process before the courts are likely your best option.
Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Helps in the Mediation Process to Reach a Positive Agreement between Parties
At Bronzino Law Firm, our divorce attorneys are experienced in providing our clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas the necessary support to ensure a fair divorce settlement, so they can move on with their lives from a place of calm and quality.
If you would like to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today regarding mediation or other facets of your divorce, please fill out the online form or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Tips on how to Manage your Estate Plan in Monmouth and Ocean County Divorce
Estate Plan Attorney educating on your financial well being in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank and across the Jersey Shore
Divorce has implications for every aspect of a person’s life, from their emotional, mental, and physical health to their financial wellbeing. During and after a divorce, most people reassess elements of their lives and plans for the future and refine them, in order to be more in alignment with their new trajectory. One financial rearrangement that may need attention is the estate plan. An estate plan doesn’t only strategically prepare you for your future – it affects your children and determines many important elements of their wellbeing in the case of your death or that of your ex. Having an understanding of how the divorce could and does affect the myriad aspects of your estate is essential in the early post-divorce process. So what are immediate steps to take involving updating your estate plan after finalizing a divorce? Read on to learn more.
Update your healthcare proxy
The healthcare proxy is the person who can legally make decisions for you if you are injured and cannot make decisions for yourself, and you likely don’t want your ex maintaining that legal power. Change your healthcare proxy to a trusted friend or family member.
Change your power of attorney
As is the case with the healthcare proxy, it is important to withdraw your ex’s legal role as the power of attorney if they are so named. In their place, name a trusted friend or family member.
Share your divorce agreement with your estate planner
Your estate planner has your family’s best interests and financial wellbeing in mind. As such, sharing your divorce agreement with them is an essential early step in the post-divorce process. Before the estate planner can help you update your estate plan, they need to know what your legal obligations are to your ex in the case of your death. What you can change will depend on what you must legally provide in the case of your death.
An estate planner can also check for holes in the divorce agreement that will adversely impact your financial wellbeing and that of your family, such as what the impact of the divorce is on retirement account beneficiaries and whether you are protected from having to pay state and federal estate taxes. The estate planner will review whether your ex can change beneficiaries and how your death would impact your children’s financial wellbeing as estate plans currently stand.
Change your will
There is a likelihood that you will no longer wish for your ex to be named in your will. If this is the case, it’s time to update it. The main revision will be removing your spouse from the role of executor of the will. Unless specifically desired, you do not want your ex to have power over your estate or your trust.
Update your beneficiaries
There are numerous savings accounts and policies for which you have named a beneficiary. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and IRAs are just some of the accounts you will need to update if you don’t want your ex to maintain a claim if you die. Some states automatically wipe an ex-spouse from being a beneficiary, but this is not always the case. If you named your spouse while you were married, forget to update, and then die, the process of the desired or secondary beneficiary receiving the funds could involve litigation.
Consider a trust
A shared life insurance policy will need to be addressed during the divorce proceeding. The person who owns the policy must pay premiums – yet they also have the power to change beneficiaries. In order to ensure that your children are cared for in the case of your ex’s death, it may be wise to name a trust as the owner of the insurance policies in order to ensure that a steady continuance of payment of the policy continues for the benefit of your family.
A trust can also be established in order to ensure a steady flow of alimony and child support. The creator of the trust, called the grantor, makes payments into the trust based on its outlined provisions. If the grantor dies, the beneficiaries can receive funds without probate. There are also tax advantages to setting up a trust as opposed to other forms of handling alimony and child support.
Consult an experienced Estate Planning and Divorce Attorney in Brick or Sea Girt NJ to protect your interests
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team is skilled in handling all matters of divorce and estate revisioning for our clients across in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, and across the Jersey Shore.
Our unique approach ensures that your financial legacy is secure.
To meet with an experienced team member to go over your estate planning needs, please call 732-812-3102 to schedule a consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt or fill out the online form and we´ll get back to you shortly.
Understanding Prenuptial Agreements in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Read on to learn what a prenuptial agreement is, why it is used, and myths about prenups that may impact your premarital decisions.
Prenuptial agreements have gotten a bad name in modern culture because it appears to be a death sentence for a marriage – before the marriage has even begun. This is not the case. A prenuptial agreement serves many purposes, and its use is not solely to ensure that, in the case of a separation, each party will walk away with pre-determined assets still in their possession.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, or ‘prenup,’ is a legal contract a couple enters into before joining together in marriage or civil union that provides them with certain controls in their marital legal rights, whether the marriage ends in death or divorce. New Jersey law sets certain legal precedents regarding the rights of a spouse in the case of separation by death or divorce, including division of assets, the right to seek alimony, and fair distribution of the estate of the spouse. A prenuptial agreement, however, can supersede those precedents
Prenups provide legal rights to couples regarding more than simply division of assets, however. Read on to learn some common myths about what a prenup is – and isn’t, and the reality of prenuptial agreement.
Myths about prenups
Fact or Fiction? The existence of a prenuptial agreement means the marriage will end up failing
This is, of course, fiction. There are many reasons a prenuptial agreement is a wise contract into which to enter, and fearing for the worst is rarely one of them. According to Business Insider, there is no conclusive evidence that the presence of a prenup results in a higher divorce rate.
Fact or Fiction? Only people with lots of money enter into prenuptial agreements
This, too, is fiction. Because the legal rights addressed in a prenup cover more than the division of assets, they are not all about big money. Prenups include legally-binding agreements from whether a spouse will be legally entitled to alimony payments in the case of a divorce to who will get the pets. They can outline how assets will be separated amongst any children and how shared debt will be handled. Because a marriage or civil union is a business partnership, a prenup acknowledges the many financial and non-financial assets to be considered in a partnership, and upon its termination.
Fact or Fiction? New Jersey prenups can include child custody arrangements in the case of divorce
This is false. The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds children at the central consideration in all divorce and custody arrangements. Because the court uses this ‘best interest of the child’ standard, they must take into account the living situation each parent would offer the child at the time of the divorce, no sooner. The inclusion of a child custody arrangement in a prenuptial agreement would be invalidated by a judge.
Fact or Fiction: A prenup can be drawn up and signed without a lawyer in New Jersey.
This is factual. New Jersey law mandates that prenuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both spouses, and included an attached statement of the assets addressed in the agreement. While New Jersey couples are encouraged to seek the support of an experienced family law attorney before submitting a prenuptial agreement to the State, it is not legally required. If one spouse hires an attorney and the other does not, a statement of acknowledgment and consent to not having an attorney must be filed as part of the prenuptial agreement. After the entry of a prenuptial agreement into law, it can only be amended or nullified with signatures from both spouses.
Fact or Fiction: If you decide later that you want legal right over your assets after you get married, you can simply sign a post-nuptial agreement.
Easy there! It is not as easy to protect your assets after you get married as that. Any assets that you have accrued between your marriage and the time you decide to arrange a postnuptial agreement are considered marital assets, and as such, they are shared equally. The process of determining what assets will remain with whom will likely require the support of an attorney, and open communication and amiability between spouses.
Get in touch with a Wall Township Prenuptial Agreement and Family Law Attorney Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced attorneys support clients in Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in their marriage and family arrangements, including prenuptial agreements.