Premarital Assets Without a Prenuptial Agreement:
Even without a prenuptial agreement, there can be “pre-marital assets” as defined in the statute. Typically, these are assets owned prior to the marriage. However, the law significantly complicates this issue by creating a “marital claim” to pre-marital assets. Although many assets fall into this trap, real estate is the biggest issue. For example, if you own a house prior to the marriage and never put your spouse’s name on the title, your spouse may still have a significant claim to the house depending on: whether you paid the mortgage with your earnings; whether the house appreciated in value; whether you made any improvements to the house; and many other factors. Many people are shocked to learn that property that they thought was clearly separate, pre-marital property is suddenly subject to division by the court.
Unintended Dis-Inheritance Without a Prenuptial Agreement:
Of great concern is what is known as “unintended dis-inheritance”. If you have children from a previous relationship, they can be effectively cut off from receiving assets from your estate when you pass. It depends on many factors as to how the assets are held, but it can have devastating and unintended consequences. When you are married and pass away, all jointly titled assets such as the house, financial accounts, vehicles, etc. automatically go 100% to your spouse. When your spouse passes, all of those assets go to your spouse’s children or heirs – which do not include your children. Even if you maintain separately titled assets, without a prenuptial agreement, your spouse is entitled to an “elective share” of your assets. Again, when your spouse then passes, all of the assets go to your spouse’s heirs.