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Overview of Minnesota prenuptial agreements

A recent post on this blog the benefits prenuptial agreements can offer Dakota County couples and others living in the area of the Twin Cities. However, a discussion of the benefits of these types of agreements also affords a good opportunity to go over exactly how these agreements work.

A prenuptial agreement is not limited to simply describing what will happen in the event a couple who gets married later chooses to divorce. The agreement can also specify what will happen to the property of each spouse in the event one spouse dies. This may prove particularly important when one or both parties have children from a prior relationship and want to be sure those children receive an inheritance. Prenuptial agreements, are, however, generally limited to the division and allocation of property. Child custody and child support arrangements usually are not covered.

On a practical level, a prenuptial agreement under Minnesota law has to be written down and signed personally by each party to the agreement. The agreement has to be signed in the presence of two witnesses and has to be notarized as well. The couple has to finalize and properly execute their agreement before the wedding day, or the agreement might be deemed unenforceable.

Additionally, there has to be some evidence, usually an acknowledgment in the agreement, that both parties have at least been given the chance to have the agreement reviewed by his or her own attorney.

Perhaps most importantly, in order to create a valid prenuptial agreement, each spouse has to have given the other spouse a "full and fair disclosure" of assets, as well as his or her income. Although a properly executed prenuptial agreement will be presumed valid, a spouse can get it set aside by showing the other party was less than forthcoming about his or her wealth.

Minnesota should be aware that a "full and fair disclosure" is broader than what is typical for most business contracts, in which a party must simply be truthful, but not necessarily forthcoming, about his or her financial situation.

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