Advising a young couple to enter into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement is uncomfortable. Basically, I am asking them to plan for divorce. But the divorce statistics are compelling. More than two million people divorce every year in the United States, with a 52% divorce rate for first marriages and a 60% divorce rate for second marriages. Older couples are now divorcing. Baby boomers are looking at twenty-five or thirty years of marriage after retirement. Many are now opting for divorce, with the hope of finding someone new to share their retirement years.
If you and your spouse have decided that a Pe-Nupital or Post-Nupital Agreement should be part of your estate plan, it can be difficult to start the process. I like to refer my clients to the "Commitment Conversation" at www.equalityinmarriage.org/cc.pdf (a Guide to the Most Improtant Discussion of Your Relationship.) It is worthwhile for any couple, whatever their marital status and stage in life, to go through this exercise. Each member should fill out the detailed questionnaire separately and compare their answers. They most likely will be surprised by each other's answers. Doing this before marriage is ideal, but it's a good idea to do this exercise every few years after the wedding. People change, particularly as they grow older. When the children are grown and have families of their own, a couple's goals will necessarily change. If the couple is approaching retirement, a discussion about goals and expectations is critical. I have seen marriages fall apart when spouses who have worked fulltime are suddenly spending all of their time together after retirement. Each spouse may have very different expectations about what will happen during retirement and what their relationship will be.