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3 things to include in your premarital agreement

A premarital agreement is the kind of document no one wants to think about signing before they get married, but it's the document many wish they had signed in the event of a divorce. This is because divorces governed by prenuptial agreements tend to be faster, smoother and less stressful.

If you're planning to get married -- and you're thinking about drafting a prenuptial agreement -- here are four basic things you should include in the document.

Distinguishing between marital and separate property: A prenuptial agreement is an excellent way to codify your and your spouse's separate property that will remain yours or your spouses after divorce, versus marital property that will be divided in a divorce.

Protection from the other spouse's debts: If one person has a large amount of debt, it could be enough to prevent the spouses from acting upon their wish to get married. A premarital agreement, however, can ensure that the spouse without debt doesn't assume responsibility for the other spouse's debt through the marriage process.

Protection of your children's inheritances: As a result of marriage laws, spouses of a decedent tend to have the ability to inherit the bulk of the decedent's estate. However, with a prenuptial agreement, spouses can ensure that their children from a previous marriage will inherit the amount of the estate that they wish them to receive.

A plan for property distribution: A prenuptial agreement can also serve as a property distribution plan in the event of a divorce to codify who shall receive what, should the marriage come to a close.

The decision to create a prenuptial agreement is a wise and responsible choice for marrying couples, no matter what age or stage of life they happen to be entering. If you want to design a prenuptial agreement, however, it's important that you draft and sign it in a legally appropriate fashion -- and it covers the most important issues for you and your family. Learning more about the Washington, D.C., marital law that applies to prenuptial agreements will help you achieve this while avoiding common prenuptial agreement pitfalls.

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