Prenuptial agreements can cause tension and anxiety for successful families with children who are moving toward marriage. Prenups are complicated for a variety of reasons, from emotional to technical, and it can feel awkward (at best) to talk about divorce while planning a wedding.
At Matter, we have helped many families navigate the prenup landscape. Although every family is different, and people approach the process with a wide variety of expectations and goals in mind, one thing is very consistent: Families that have invested in creating a culture of communication, preparation, and alignment over the years are able to approach the prenup process more confidently and thoughtfully—and with much greater success.
We work with Matter families to develop communication tools and practices, prepare for important milestones and transitions, and align on goals and values that help guide their decision-making. By focusing on these areas, the families we serve build foundations of trust that help them thrive through changes and challenges of all kinds.
Good communication is the key to any relationship. When families encourage thoughtful communication in the household, they are setting the stage for their children to do the same.
- Learn how to have hard conversations respectfully and successfully—especially when wealth is the topic.
- Encourage all family members to build self-awareness about their listening and communication skills, so you can communicate better as individuals and as a family.
Building knowledge about financial concepts and terms, and practicing increasing levels of responsibility related to wealth over time, prepares the rising generation for conversations they’ll have and critical decisions they’ll need to make as adults.
Set the stage with skills development. In its earliest stages, this will be as simple as helping young people learn the difference between a “need” and a “want” or building an understanding of the relationship between work and money.
Layer on responsibility over time as children grow and mature. To work toward full balance sheet disclosure (which is necessary in a prenup), a child might become involved in the family investment committee or take responsibility for managing and investing small amounts of money.
Plan for the future. Bring young adults into high-level estate planning conversations, and familiarize them with the concept of a prenup and how it relates to family legacy.
When families are aligned on their values and clear on the greater purpose of their wealth, difficult conversations become much easier. Sensitive topics can be discussed and understood within the broader context of family values and a shared vision for wealth and legacy.
A prenup doesn’t need to be contentious or anxiety inducing. In fact, it can be a way for a new couple to begin establishing their own framework for communication, preparation, and alignment. We see prenups as the financial counterpart to wedding vows: Both should be done in the spirit of partnership, commitment to one another, and faith in the longevity of the union. And both will be most successful if they are built on a foundation of collaboration, trust in one another, and a shared vision for the path ahead.
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