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Texas seniors may benefit from prenuptial agreements

Seniors in Texas who are planning to get married may want to consider taking a legal precaution that many young couples don't: Signing a prenuptial agreement is often more important for marrying couples who already have assets to their name.

Especially for senior citizens, a prenuptial agreement can ease decisions about property division if the marriage fails and a couple chooses to divorce. It also can be especially helpful to protect finances received through a previous divorce settlement, retirement savings, life savings, home equity, ownership of a business or money received through an inheritance.

Older couples may want to consider a prenup because of the possibly large amounts of investments or savings. In many cases, prenups for seniors can be more important than a prenup for a younger couple who may not have as many assets.

A prenup can make the divorce process simpler because it ensures that each individual has his or her own assets when the divorce is final. In addition, the assets of an individual who passes away will automatically go to that person's heir or benefactor. Without a prenuptial agreement, assets are at risk, as Texas and many other states have laws that will split assets equitably between divorcing spouses.

In addition, spouses should realize the government determines Medicare eligibility by using the shared assets of a married couple. This can make things difficult if one spouse is in need of nursing home care.

Both partners should have separate, experienced lawyers to help determine an agreement that works in the best interest of both people. Prenups also can be created after a marriage is official, if the couple has a change of heart.

Although prenuptial agreements can be a tough conversation for couples, it may help to know an agreement can put spouses at ease about their future in cases of divorce or death.

Source: EmpowHER, "Seniors, Marriage and the Prenup," Jody Smith, July 1, 2012

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