When we are just starting out in a marriage we are often totally trusting and make the assumption that the relationship will last forever.
Well the sad reality is that in the USA one third to one half of marriages now end in divorce. In Australia the figures are similar with one third of marriages ending in divorce in 2019.
The Reality of a Prenuptial Agreement
I don’t think that many people contemplating marriage look at these figures, but if they are young and have a large Trust Fund they really need to protect their wealth, or they may end up being divested of it. The other problem is that money is not quite so important to most young people and unless they are highly educated they do not really understand wealth.
How do we Protect our Wealth and Finances
Well to start with we have to raise the subject and have an open and frank discussion. This is best done gradually, to get your partner acquainted with the idea, as actually having a lot of money is a huge responsibility. If your partner appears to be accepting of discussions of wealth it will be easier to talk more on the subject, do it quite gradually, but once you are engaged the time has come to be more open and transparent This will be crunch time and the next discussion must take place quite quickly and could be make or break time. This discussion will need to be professionally structured and should be held in your accountant or solicitors office as they will know how best to present the discussion. In these situations it is better to refer to the money as family money and although you will have some latitude in regard to spending, the rest of the money is invested to ensure the wealth of the next generation, your children. If your partner really does not know how wealthy you are it will be a bit easier, wealth can fluctuate with downturns and the wealth needs to be protected.
It can be a difficult subject in some families, my late Mother who was wealthy bought us up to think that talking about money was vulgar, this put us at a disadvantage compared with families who talked of nothing else. Finances and wealth are very important and we all need a certain amount of financial education in order to get through to retirement with enough money to live on.
Tell your future partner that the accountant/ solicitor has requested a meeting in his office to discuss future finances at a given time and date.
The meeting will be recorded and minutes taken as is customary with business meetings, and will last for one hour.
Let the accountant raise the prospect of a prenuptial agreement, and see how it is received by your partner. It is hard to be this objective when you are in love and contemplating marriage, but this is for your future benefit and one day you will be glad that your wealth has been protected.
Relationships can be tricky, this is why the subject should be raised by the accountant, he could indicate that it is a customary family expectation and pave the way a bit. Obviously a financial agreement will have to be drawn up and you and your partner will have plenty of time to go away and discuss how you would like this financial agreement look.
Following the meeting, you will have a good idea as to how the idea of a prenuptial agreement has been received by your partner. Most young people would be receptive of the situation if they felt that they had some say in the way that it was structured. In reality they probably won’t have too much say, but the ongoing consultation will make them feel as though they are being consulted. If your relationship is strong and you are really in love you should be able to survive this revelation. Have a couple more consultative meetings involving your partner and the accountant/ solicitor and try to iron out as many details as possible. When we are contemplating change it is always very inclusive to have some ongoing consultation and be able to present our view, and most people find this way of working things out very clear and calming. In a way it sets the foundation for a strong marriage if you are able to sit down and work through the prenuptial agreement in a mature manner, you should not have any problem negotiating your future and working through issues.
Your Wealth and the Prenuptial Agreement
You have now built the foundation for the prenuptial agreement to be finalized, these things do take time and it is important to get it finalized as the lead up to the wedding will be all consuming.
Obviously if your partner refuses to sign the agreement the wedding will have to be deferred, and if he or she flatly refuses it would be better not to go ahead with the wedding.
However given the level of consultation involved most people would see the mutual benefits of the situation in protecting future wealth for you both and would be quite happy for the prenuptial agreement to proceed. Once the agreement is signed you will be able to move forward with your life in the knowledge that the future is secure. It is so much better to have a signed agreement because that is what you are doing when you marry you are also signing a legal agreement, even though marriage is an agreement that is more easily dissolved than a prenuptial agreement.
In many societies marriage is approached like a business transaction. People in our communities who have a large amount of wealth, should be approaching marriage in a similar responsible way, after all it is very hard to have a happy and productive life if our finances are constantly under threat
from a partner who has become disillusioned and aims to leave with half your net wealth. To me a prenuptial agreement makes perfect sense, and will alleviate future misery.