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Millennial prenups: Moving from sharing to protecting

Know for eschewing possessions, millennials have been characterized as a sharing generation. The rooms rented through Airbnb, rides offered through Uber and songs streamed through the cloud attest to a preference of borrowing over owning. According to a PwC survey, 57 percent of millennials have deemed access to be the new form of ownership. It is certain that the founders of WeWork would not have profited without a millennial proclivity towards communal life.

As some millennials are contemplating solidifying a union with a partner; however, the tendency to share does not extend to the realm of business holdings or intellectual property. A poll conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) revealed that 51 percent of attorneys surveyed reported a rise in millennial requests for prenuptial agreements. According to the president of the AAML, a trend towards marrying later in life is driving the increase in prenup considerations, as this cohort may have more financial interests to protect than couples tying the knot at a younger age.

In addition to the items typically included in prenup contracts, these areas of interest are requested most often:

1. Business holdings

For business owners getting married later in life, there is a strong desire to retain possession of the companies they may have started before declaring wedding vows. Those engaged in expanding a start-up are concerned about the potential for expansion. Divorce attorney Jacqueline Newman explains their motivation: "Without an agreement dictating otherwise, the separate property nature of the business would be valued at the date of the marriage when it was low but the growth during the marriage would be all marital, which may not be fair to the person who created the idea prior to getting hitched." In this manner, a prenup agreement can protect future investments.

2. Intellectual property

Songs, software applications and screenplays are just three types of intellectual property that can be protected through the contract. While these creations may have yet to provide a solid return, their projected worth through licensing fees and royalties can be estimated. These figures can be entered into the agreement.

3. Future ideas

Doodles on a napkin that represent the next great disrupter can be protected. For those seeking to safeguard an idea, the contract can establish ownership. Many attorneys caution that, in contrast to safeguarding concepts that have been registered, assigning a dollar value to an idea is a tricky undertaking.

For those interested in moving beyond sharing to protecting, couples may find drafting a prenup to be a worthwhile investment. Individuals who desire a contract that assigns ownership rights to concepts not fully developed are advised to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable attorney.

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