Washington is a community property state. Generally, after two, ten, or even twenty years of marriage, Washington courts will strive to ensure an equitable distribution of property and debt acquired during the marriage. More specifically, this means that all income, credit card debts, stocks, and other retirement benefits accrued since you were married is a community asset/debt that should be split equitably upon divorce. Prenuptial agreements in Washington are frequently utilized to protect both spouses from the unintended consequences of a divorce.
Discussing a prenup with your fiancé (or a “postnup” with your new spouse) may be an awkward subject. No one goes out of their way to discuss ending a marriage especially right before or right after the marriage was executed. Having an open conversation with your soon-to-be-spouse may save a great deal of confusion, distrust, and pain down the road. Prenuptial agreements act like insurance contracts. You purchase auto or homeowner’s insurance with the intention of never having to use it. It costs you money and annoyance having to deal with setting it up. If you are ever in a car accident, the insurance is well worth the issues it caused in the first place.
What Protections Can a Prenup Provide?
Prenuptial agreements are contracts signed by both the future husband and wife. With that in mind, the agreement can be manipulated in many different directions to help provide for the individuals’ specific needs and desires. Maybe the wife is entering the marriage with a property owned for generations in her family. A prenup can protect that property and ensure that – despite the separate nature of the asset – it would assuredly be allocated to her in the event of a divorce. Perhaps the husband just started a company. A prenuptial agreement can lay out the terms of an eventual divorce regarding the allocation of company assets upfront so that there is no confusion in the event of a divorce. A carefully drafted agreement can protect you in many ways:
Discussing prenuptial agreements well in advance of a marriage is best practice to avoid a few pitfalls common in these scenarios. Courts have the opportunity to void property agreements if the contracts were unconscionably created. For example, if the agreement was discussed and signed the week before the marriage, upon dispute, the court may hold that one party had insufficient opportunity to investigate and understand the consequences of their signature. It’s often recommended that you start the prenup process at least a few months before a wedding. This will allow both spouses to discuss their finances openly and honestly. It will also allow the partners to individually seek legal representation, which is often deemed a requirement to ensure fairness.
If you’re interested in protecting your separate assets, or you and your spouse want to create your own marriage insurance agreement like a prenup, speaking with a family law attorney early on may be a huge boon. The experienced legal team at the Law Offices of Magnuson Lowell PS understand the difficult position partners are in to protect their assets. Call our qualified litigators today for a free case evaluation.
Throughout 2019, GEICO reported a $770 million profit and the State Farm group of insurance companies had a net profit of nearly $70 billion! These companies reach these astronomical profit lines by using their power and knowledge to take advantage of injured drivers after car accidents. In fact, these billion-dollar businesses have entire departments dedicated to analyzing driving habits, claims practices, and litigation tactics in order to minimize recoveries to maximize their profits.
Insurance companies also spend exorbitant sums on marketing and branding in order to create new and loyal customers. Every commercial you see – whether it’s State Farm’s “Good Neighbor” campaign or GEICO’s classic caveman scenes – was created by entire departments of marketing teams to help create trust and even positive attitudes towards these insurance behemoths. The insurers then use (and many times abuse) this trust to take advantage of drivers in their time of need to protect the company’s bottom-line.
Here are a tactics insurance companies take to maximize their enormous profits:
1. Recording Statements – After an accident, insurance adjusters will commonly request a statement in order to learn what happened and how you’re feeling. Many times, they will ask to record your statement. Creating a record of what you said at a specific point in time is disingenuous and may not reflect the entirety of the truth, but that won’t stop the insurer from using those words against you.
2. Delaying or Ignoring Claims – Under Washington law, your personal insurance company has a duty to respond to you within a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. At fault insurance companies have no such requirement. If they feel that delaying your claim might get you to quit, you can expect them to ignore you hoping that you might throw in the towel.
3. Lowballing Offers – Here’s a common scenario. You were injured in a clear fault auto collision and went to physical and massage therapy for 3-4 months. What does the insurance company believe your time is worth - $500, $750, $1,000? The adjusters know more about the claim process than you do and will use that knowledge to abuse the negotiations. Don’t let them!
4. PIP Medical Examinations – After treating for a couple months, your insurance company might get sick of paying your bills and request you undergo an examination. They have the right to force this exam typically under the policy, and they will often use the doctor’s opinions to cut off treatment.
Personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping their clients even the playing field. Insurance adjusters are trained in techniques to manipulate the situation in the insurance company’s favor. Working with your own qualified lawyer will help you avoid some of the pitfalls inherent in the insurance claim and will often prevent the insurance adjuster from denying or minimizing your claim. The experienced litigators at Magnuson Lowell PS will help fight for your rights to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call today for a free consultation.