[IMGCAP(1)]Prenuptial agreements are essential in many situations, but it is always awkward for one of the blissfully in love parties to bring it up. Prenups consider the possible failure of the happiest thing in the two people’s lives.
A client once asked me to accompany his son to a meeting where the terms of a prenuptial agreement were to be worked out to make sure the son’s small ownership of the business could never pass outside of his blood line or the father’s control while he was alive. I went to the meeting with the two attorneys, the son, his fiancée and both mothers. My role was as an observer and I intended to keep quiet.
It is unusual for clients to attend such meetings with the lawyers. Early in the meeting, I noticed that each attorney was jockeying for position and the attention of their client. Open and normal negotiations weren’t going to happen, I could see, and the meeting would take triple the time it needed, while the client’s son and his intended would become super-upset at what they would hear.
I halted the meeting and requested that I, along with the two lovebirds and their mothers, step outside and remain there until the attorneys were finished hammering out the terms. No one understood why, and they did not want to leave, but I ultimately prevailed. At some point we all left and went our own ways as our presence was not necessary.
In spite of all the prenups I’ve been involved with, this is the meeting I take the most pride in—even though it meant getting everyone to leave. Sometimes the accountant’s presence has nothing to do with dollars, but everything to do with having a good and caring sense.
P.S.: I’ve written a blog post with a checklist of what should be in a prenuptial agreement. You can access it at http://partners-network.com/2013/04/23/prenuptial-agreements/.
Edward Mendlowitz, CPA, is a partner in WithumSmith+Brown, PC, CPAs. He has authored 20 books and has written hundreds of articles for business and professional journals and newsletters plus a Tax Loophole article for every issue of TaxHotline for 27 years. Ed also writes a blog twice a week that addresses issues his clients have at www.partners-network.com. He is the winner of the Lawler Award for the best article published during 2001 in the Journal of Accountancy. He has also taught in the MBA graduate program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Tax Court. He welcomes practice management questions and can be reached at WithumSmith+Brown, One Spring Street, New Brunswick, N.J. 08901, (732) 964-9329, email@example.com.
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