The Human Side of Prenuptials: A Thoughtful Approach — Susan Schoenfeld

Susan R. Schoenfeld, CEO and Founder of Wealth Legacy Advisors LLC, serves as a ‘Thought Partner’ to families of wealth through personal attention and human spirit.

Susan is an award-winning thought leader; she provides guidance on legacy, next-generation, stewardship, governance, leadership succession, and philanthropy. Susan recently spoke at the Tacoma, WA Estate Planning Council’s virtual event.

“My concern on the human side of prenups is that your child’s fiancée will think that you don’t trust them. My message to you and to your clients is to remember that this fiancée who is soon going to become your in-law is not your outlaw. At the end of the day, they are going to be the parents of your grandchildren.

“I once had a 65-year-old couple who had been married for 42 years that were sitting in my office when I was still an estate planner and the wife said, “your mother never trusted me because 42 years ago she made me sign that prenup, and I still hold a grudge.”

“Remember that insisting that your kids or clients’ kids have to sign a prenup may make good financial sense and good asset protection sense, but it does have a cost. The cost is the relationship of the family.

“So yes, full financial disclosure is required, both parties have to be over age 18, etc., but my human tips for prenups are:

1. Make sure there is plenty of time for the parties to consider the pros and cons. Everything should be signed and inked long before the wedding invitations go out.

2. Don’t have the moneyed spouse’s parents pay for the other spouse’s lawyer, because then you have the issue of who is the client, with a potential conflict of interest claim later.

3. Make sure that you have the conversation long before the children are even of dating age. That is the ideal. If your client’s kids are tweens, this is the time to encourage them to have those conversations so that it’s not personal, but rather no matter who I was going to marry, whether they be vastly wealthier or vastly less wealthy than my family, we were still going to have to sign a prenup.”

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Susan Schoenfeld, a public speaker & thought partner to families of wealth and their advisors, is an author and award-winning thought leader. Susan’s decision to switch from being a successful estate planning attorney and CPA to become a trusted family advisor and thought partner was inspired by families of wealth asking her searching questions beyond estate tax planning. As a conflict-free advisor who provides no investment, tax, or legal advice and sells no product, Susan shares her insights directly with wealthy families and with financial services experts. She is active as a keynote speaker and a leader of break-out sessions and workshops at conferences throughout the US.

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