Whether your parents are first-generation farmers or your farm has been in the family since they came over from Sweden or elsewhere over a century ago, it has provided financial stability that’s allowed you to pursue your own dreams that may have little or nothing to do with being a farmer.
If you’re getting married, however, you may need to take steps to help keep the farm in the family. If you have an ownership share in the farm, even if you’re not involved in the day-to-day operations, or if you’re going to inherit even a portion of it when your parents die, it could potentially be lost if your marriage one day ends in divorce.
That’s why a prenuptial agreement is crucial to protect not just the land, but the home(s) and other property on the land, the animals, equipment and other assets. These could be worth far more than you imagined – especially if you haven’t been involved in the family business.
Many people still have a negative view of prenups. They think they’re “bad luck” or “planning for divorce.” Increasingly, however, people are viewing them much like an insurance policy. They hope they won’t need it, but they’re grateful it’s there if the unthinkable happens.
Ensuring that you have a valid prenup
Of course, a prenup has to be fair to both spouses. If it’s not, it can be considered “unconscionable” and tossed out by a judge if it ever has to be used. That’s just one reason why both parties need to have their own legal guidance as they draw up a prenup.
If your spouse-to-be resists the idea of agreeing not to take any part of the farm, they’ll likely need to get something in return. A prenup can’t be written to benefit only one person.
It also can’t be forced on someone. You can’t wait until the week before the wedding and have your family sit down with your fiance and present them with a prenup to sign. Further, both parties need to provide full and accurate financial disclosures so that both parties know what’s at stake and can negotiate in good faith.
There are also things you’ll need to do to prevent unintentionally blurring the terms of the prenup – like commingling separate assets. All of this and more are part of developing a solid prenup. Getting sound legal guidance is a good first step in the process.