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Four mistakes that could ruin a prenuptial agreement (PNA)

Prenuptial agreements (PNAs) are growing increasingly common for couples preparing to marry. These agreements aren't reserved for high-profile or affluent people; they are valuable tools that can protect the assets and interests of any individual.

If you are interested in creating a PNA, make sure it is fair and meets legal requirements. Otherwise, it is a pointless exercise. This means avoiding common mistakes like these below.

PNA Mistake #1: Not having a legal document

In accordance with the Arizona Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a PNA must be a written document signed by both parties. They must have the mental capacity to approve legal papers, and sign voluntarily. If threats or coercion are involved, the PNA will not be enforceable.

PNA Mistake #2: Including unfair or unlawful terms

Courts can set aside all or part of a PNA if it contains grossly unfair conditions. The classic (but not only) example is a PNA that is so lopsided it leaves one party destitute while greatly enriching the other.

PNA Mistake #3: Signing it at the wrong time

The timing matters. If you arrange for approval of a PNA on the figurative (or even literal) eve of the wedding, you are asking for trouble. A judge might later think you pressured your future spouse into signing when - with a little time for reflection - your spouse might have asked for different terms. This is especially true if your spouse has invested a lot of time and money into wedding preparations, or relatives are traveling from a great distance ... and at no small cost. Your spouse may feel as though they no longer have a choice to refuse the PNA because of what they will lose if the wedding is canceled. 

PNAs should be drafted, negotiated, adjusted, and signed well before the wedding day - preferably weeks before, or even months.

PNA Mistake #4: Not having legal guidance

A PNA is a contract, and therefore, it warrants inspection by a qualified legal representative. Both parties should have the opportunity to review the document with a separate attorney. If this doesn't happen, the party without representation might later complain they were unfairly outmaneuvered.

These and other mistakes can be avoided with adequate preparation and legal guidance. Prenuptial agreements are valuable tools that protect individuals in the event of divorce, so taking steps to ensure they are valid and fair will be essential.

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