Wow, 25 years and counting.
Andrew and I recently celebrated our silver wedding anniversary at Bonsai, the new sushi restaurant at the Pensacola Beach Hilton. It was delish! Pricey, but delicious.
When we married 25 years ago shortly after graduating from law school and taking the Florida Bar exam, Andrew and I were “broke college kids” fresh out of school, new in our jobs, and deep in student loan debt.
We used our Bar Exam Review Course money as a down payment on our first condo on the beach. The purchase price? Our one bedroom, 650 square foot condo on Little Sabine Bay cost us a whopping $52,000! A fortune to us back then.
With no assets to speak of and this being our first marriage with no kids yet, a prenuptial agreement was the furthest thing from our minds. After all, we had nothing and no one else to protect. We were literally starting our lives and our net worth from scratch. Well, I suppose you can say from “in the hole” since we did have those pesky student loan debts.
The same cannot be said of many of my clients that come to see me. This is unsurprising since most folks don’t start thinking about protecting their assets until they have been working and building them up for a while or have already started their families.
Prenuptial and other marital agreements have a bad reputation. Many presuppose that asking your life partner to sign one means you don’t really love or trust them. Or that you are dooming your marriage to be a failure from the start. Or that you are reducing the blessed union of two lives to a business contract.
But, no matter how you slice it, getting married DOES have serious financial ramifications for both families involved, especially if you or your partner have children by a prior relationship or if one of you is in a better financial situation than the other.
Of course, a future divorce can have devastating financial consequences for spouses, especially when a business is involved.
But many folks forget that the death of a spouse can also have dire financial consequences for the surviving family of the deceased spouse.
A surviving spouse has GUARANTEED INHERITANCE RIGHTS in the State of Florida, even if you choose not to leave anything to them. And, even if you both “agree” that you will each take care of your own respective children, unless your spouse waives their rights in writing, your children are at risk of a nasty court battle with their stepmom or stepdad when you’re gone.
Discussing marital agreements and prenups are a delicate conversation that I often have with clients as a part of our estate planning discussions. I never tell anyone that they must have one with their spouse but I at least want them making an informed decision about it by letting them know what might go wrong with their future plans.
Ha, betcha didn’t think this email about my 25 year marriage anniversary would turn into a discussion about prenups, did you?!
But, given my line of work, I’ve already told my husband in no uncertain terms that if he ever chooses to remarry should I predecease him, that he sure as heck better first have a prenup in place to protect our children’s inheritance. Otherwise, I will come back to haunt him from the grave.
Or, he can just live in sin. No matter. Florida doesn’t recognize common law marriages so my husband’s “new floozy” won’t have any rights to our money and assets when he dies.
I’m being facetious of course (kinda) but I think I’ve made my point.
I love my husband and I love our children and I want to make sure that our kids ultimately end up with everything their dad and I have worked hard to build during our lives together.
Unless of course, Andrew and I decide to spend it all while we’re alive. Then, kids, you’re out of luck!
Kristen “25 Year Newlywed and Counting” Marks
P.S. Give our office a shout if you want to learn more about your spouse’s rights after you’re gone. 850-439-1191