If you are planning on getting married in the near future, you probably have hundreds of questions. Should you have a big wedding or a small one? Traditional or non-traditional? And the big question: should you get a prenup?
Getting a prenup before marriage can bring up complex emotions for engaged couples. Proposing and planning your life together doesn’t seem like the ideal time to discuss an agreement that details what might happen in the event of a dispute or divorce, but it’s a practical consideration everyone should make.
After all, more than half of all marriages end in divorce, and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that it will happen to you.
If you want to protect your financial future, you should sign a prenup.
What Is a Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement that two people enter into before they get married. The prenup can cover issues like how to handle property rights and assets, death, incapacity, estate planning, student debt, and spousal support.
It also covers legal issues that crop up in the event of a divorce, which does include the division and attribution of income earned during the marriage.
Why Do You Need a Prenup?
The law makes certain provisions in the event of a divorce, but you may want to deviate from what the law provides.
For example, how would you like children from prior marriages to be supported in the event of a divorce or death?
If the state you currently reside in allows for equitable distribution of assets, and then you relocate to a community property state, you may want to state upfront how you would prefer assets distributed.
You should also think about how property bought together should be handled, as well as any non-marital assets that become marital (and divisible) assets over time.
Should You Get a Prenup Even If You Don’t Have a Lot of Money?
Should you sign a prenuptial agreement even if you aren’t rich? Even if you don’t have substantial assets to protect, you should get a prenuptial agreement.
You might need protection from your future spouse’s debts, for example. You never know what your future assets will look like, and it’s important to discuss the worst-case scenarios either way.
How Much Do Prenups Cost?
Prenups can vary in cost from state to state and firm to firm. In large urban metros, you can expect to pay up to $7,500 to $20,000 each, but in smaller cities, you can spend closer to $2,500.
It’s a common practice for the person with the most assets to cover the costs of the legal counsel for their partner. It’s worth consulting with a lawyer when approaching a prenuptial agreement for the first time.
Getting a Prenuptial Agreement in Place
Before getting a prenup, you should think about why you really want one. If you are worried that your future spouse isn’t being transparent about their finances, you may want to look them up using public records to see if there are any red flags.
If you simply want to ensure that you are financially protected in the event of your partner’s death or if you divorce, discuss the options with your attorney.
If you are confident that a prenup is a way to go, take the following steps:
- Draft an agreement with a professional attorney.
- List your assets and debts and discuss your future spouse’s assets and debts with them.
- Draft the agreement according to what was discussed with your attorney.
- Define the list of shared and separate properties, as well as the way your existing debts will be paid.
No one likes to think about the possibility of a divorce, especially while you are wedding planning, but it’s an important exercise every couple should go through. It’s important to protect yourself, your children and future children, and your partner.
Should you get a prenup? If financial security is important to you, the answer is a resounding yes. Speak to your partner and to a lawyer to better understand what a prenup will involve and how you would like things handled if the worst does happen.