A Prenuptial Agreement is a contract entered into between two people who are planning to get married. The purpose of such a document is usually to set forth the couple’s agreement as to how their finances will be divided in the event their marriage does not last and they end up divorcing. But a Prenuptial Agreement can also be a place the couple reduces to writing an agreement between the two of them as to how their finances will be handled in the event one of them dies.
For a Prenuptial Agreement to be valid in Massachusetts, it must be signed by the parties before their wedding. Each party must have the opportunity to have an attorney of his/her own choosing represent their interests as the agreement is drafted. Each must fully and honestly disclose his/her assets and income to the other to avoid a claim at a later date that there was fraud when the agreement was signed. Further, neither party should feel unduly pressured to enter into the agreement which could later lead to a claim of duress.
If you and your partner are considering entering into a Prenuptial Agreement, do not wait until just prior to your wedding to do so as there is some thinking that if such an agreement is signed right before a wedding, that in itself may be evidence that one party was under duress at the time. If one of you finds you want to enforce the Prenuptial Agreement at a later date, a court will take a close look at the document to make sure it is not unreasonable, that there was no fraud or duress when it was signed and to make certain there was full financial disclosure before it was signed.