Most of us don’t think of marriage as a financial partnership, but sharing finances is one critical part of the relationship. Ms. Tiftickjian counsels clients from different backgrounds and with a variety of circumstances who want to document property rights in their marriage. These agreements give you confidence that your wishes will be protected.
Under Colorado marital agreement law, spouses can enter into both pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. In most states, marital agreements must be finalized before marriage. Maybe you are a widower remarrying late in life. You want to make sure that your adult children still receive the inheritance you and their mother planned for them and the grandchildren. Maybe you brought a large inheritance into the marriage and want it to stay in your family in the event of a divorce.
Under Colorado law, separate property includes all assets owned before the marriage, and all inheritances and gifts to one spouse after the marriage. To stay separate, it must be held in one spouse’s name only. Marital property includes all assets acquired during marriage, regardless of titling. This sometimes confuses people who fear, “My wife’s retirement account is growing faster than mine!” Or, “The house is in my husband’s name!” If it was acquired during the marriage, titling does not matter. Both are marital property. Appreciation on separate property during marriage is also marital property. In the event of divorce, marital property is subject to “equitable” division by the court.
Debt incurred by either spouse before marriage remains the separate debt of that spouse. All debt incurred after the marriage is marital debt, regardless of whose name the debt was incurred in or who benefited from the debt. In the event of divorce, marital debt is assigned to the person with enough income to pay the debt.
When doing a marital property agreement, each spouse must have full disclosure about the other spouse’s financial situation. Additionally, it is important that both parties have plenty of time to carefully review and consider the agreement. For this reason, it is important to call an estate planning lawyer in the months before (and not the weeks before) the wedding. Finally, both spouses must have their own separate counsel who can independently advise them about the ramifications of the agreement.
To discuss your marital agreement goals, call our Denver estate planning lawyersat (303) 991-4676 or send us a note.