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Investment Tip of the Day

Safeguarding Your Assets — Prenups

Prenup Your AssetsGetting married is a special time for many people. It is a union of two people who love each other with high hopes of living happily ever after. However, the reality of the issue is that most marriages end in divorce. And when that happens all that trust you had for your significant other is out the door with half your belongings.

Prenuptial agreements help to reduce the headache when a divorce happens. It serves as a form of insurance for both parties in the marriage. The problem with prenups is that it gets a bad rap as being insensitive; after all, if one brings it up one can’t help but wonder if love is the most important thing in that relationship or is it money? So if you are sitting here wondering if your partner will take offense to the idea then think no further they most certainly will. And I still say you must do it. Thankfully perceptions are changing and people are becoming more accepting of it.

Prenups have been a common practice by the rich to help protect their investments and other assets from people who think they can get rich quick by marrying into it. But prenups have begun to trickle down as a tool used by non-wealthy individuals too. Think about it: If you grew up on a family cottage as a child but later in life got married it would be detrimental to be forced to sell this cottage to fulfill the 50-50 split obligation. It’s situations like this that make prenups always a necessary obligation prior to marriage, regardless of income level.

Many people in Canada think that prenups aren’t enforceable which can easily be renegotiated when the time comes. If you are one of those types who think that then I hate to burst your bubble because legally it is binding. When you sign the dotted line that is pretty much it. There are some exceptions that the judge can consider that might help adjust the 50-50 divide such as if one had racked up an enormous amount of debt while married.

Each province has different requirements for prenuptials. For example, in Ontario each partner must list their assets before the marriage and again when they leave it. So in Ontario what you bring into a marriage is what you take out, excluding the family home — that will be divided for sure. Any increase in value of existing assets, or new acquired assets, while in the marriage will be split 50-50. That includes any business value increases. In British Colombia this is slightly different. You may be required to split all of your assets, even ones that were acquired prior to your getting married.

Although divorces are rarely pretty prenups help keep things clean and less costly for everyone. But in the end the biggest winners, prenup or not, are the lawyers. You can expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $2,000 for a simple prenup to be written. You could skip using a lawyer and write your own agreement on a piece of paper but doing so leaves it open to potentially be nullified because you did not provide the necessary legalese to cover specific conditions. So be careful if you do not use a lawyer.

If one is to live happily ever after in this day and age it is always advised to take your emotions out of the game and think long-term. Prenuptial agreements may not always be the most romantic of things to deal with but in the long-term, as a smart investor, is the best investment you can make.