Even successful marriages end when one of their members passes away. To protect yourself against the pitfalls of divorce and death, many financial and marital experts recommend executing a prenuptial agreement.

One common misconception about this agreement is that it is only needed to protect significant assets carried into the marriage by either party. Although a premarital contract is certainly relevant for that, there are other benefits as well. Prenuptial agreements can also protect spouses from being saddled with the other’s debt in the event of his or her death or a divorce. If one member does pass away, a prenuptial agreement will provide extra security in making sure your assets and belongings are distributed as you desire.

Prenuptial agreements are particularly important if you are remarrying, if one member of the marriage has a much larger amount of wealth, or if the two marrying individuals have a large age gap between them.

A premarital agreement is also important for marrying individuals who bring children from a prior marriage into their current one. A prenuptial agreement ensures that your kids will be cared for after your death, in the manner you choose.

Because more married couples are choosing to keep their finances separate rather than to merge their money together, they are preferring to retain their financial independence even after tying the knot. Couples seeking this sort of arrangement are likely to see a prenuptial agreement as a means of identifying wealth and assets separately in the event of a divorce, reducing the need for keeping track of this division during daily married life.

Source: Reuters: “When Valentines and prenups go together,” Kathleen Kingsbury, Feb. 15, 2012