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Family heirlooms and prenuptial (or postnuptial) agreements

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements essentially serve the same basic function: They help define ownership of assets in case a marriage goes sour.

While business owners and wealthy families often use them to try to avoid unnecessary drama and litigation over the division of property, there are other reasons to consider a prenup (if you’re not yet married) or a postnup (if you’ve already tied the knot).

Consider, for example, how family heirlooms will be treated if you eventually divorce. Here are some of the common reasons prenups and postnups can help create a sense of security.

To protect the heirloom engagement ring

Did you inherit your great-grandmother’s diamond ring and use it to propose? Generally, engagement rings are considered conditional gifts, so the ring would become your spouse’s once you marry. A prenup, however, allows you to contractually agree that the ring will stay in your family in case of divorce.

You could design the prenup so that, should you divorce, the ring goes into a trust for your eldest child (if you have one), or just set things up so that the ring is returned to you in exchange for its appraised value.

To protect inherited items of significant emotional value

Ever since Kurt Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, lost her father’s acoustic guitar in a divorce, this idea has caught on.

Even if you’re already married when you inherit certain significant items from your own relatives, you may want to get a postnup that clearly carves those items out as your private property. While inheritances are supposed to belong only to the inheritor, ownership can become confused, as illustrated by the case mentioned above.

If you’re seeking to protect your family heirlooms – big or small – consider learning more about the benefits of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

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