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What are prenuptial and joint life agreements?

Prenuptial and joint life agreements are legal documents that determine how the mutual property of spouses is divided in case of separation or death.


While a prenuptial agreement regulates the division of property of legally married couples, a joint life agreement regulates the division of property of common law spouses who are not formally married. 

When is it recommended to sign a prenuptial or joint life agreement?

  1. Always - such agreement acts as an "insurance policy" and can create comfort and certainty for the couple and their families.

  2. When one of the spouses owns substaintial assets since before the relationship and fears that these assets may be lost in case of separation or death. 

  3. When the spouses wish to divide their property in a different manner than the existing default under the law, usually, to apply complete separation, or complete inclusion.

  4. Common law marriage - this is an informal status, and its implications may vary in different contexts. A joint life agreement can serve as a conclusive proof for the existance of the relationship, as well as to help avoid disputes in the future by not only determining how the property shall be divided in case of separation or death, but also by determining when the relationship began and how it can be terminated.

The relation between prenuptial and joint life agreements and wills

Prenuptial and joint life agreements define what assets are included in one's estate, whereas a will determines how that estate is distributed upon death. Therefore, in certain circumstances it is vital to execute both a prenuptial or joint life agreement, as well as a will, in order to achieve the desired result.


To illustrate, let us take Johs for example, who has children from a previous relationship and now begins his second one. He wishes that his apartment be transferred to his children upon his death, and not his current spouse. A will stating this will not be sufficient, as his new spouse may claim half of the rights in the apartment as his spouse. by executing both a prenuptial agreement and a will John can guarantee that his wishes will be fulfiled.


Trusts and intergenerational transfers of assets.

Trusts | Wills and Inheritance | Enduring Power of Attorney | Prenuptial and Joint Life Agreements | Transactions of Assets

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