If you’re searching for a free California prenuptial agreement form to use as your prenup, be warned that it may not be enforceable. This is because California has a lot of laws in place regarding prenups, including how they should be created, what can be included, and what makes them enforceable. Most free California prenuptial agreement forms don’t take all of these laws into consideration. Even if they do, you may not fully comprehend the law and may not know how to properly execute it. Don’t worry, we’ll go into detail regarding the issues with free California prenuptial agreement forms below, so keep reading to learn more!
Problem #1: Free CA prenup forms don’t explain how to properly execute a prenup
When you download a free prenup form or template online, typically, those websites do not provide you with a step-by-step guideline on how to properly execute the prenup in your state. For example, every state has different rules on how prenups should be executed. Some states require witnesses, other states require notarization, and some states require a waiting period between the prenup’s final draft and the signing of the prenup, like California.
That’s right, a free prenup template for California likely doesn’t explain all of the little formalities that go into creating a valid and enforceable prenup! Such as how to properly sign it, notarize it, and perform the proper waiting period. That’s one of the major reasons this method of obtaining a prenup is so “dangerous.”
Problem #2: Free CA prenup forms may include unconscionable clauses
For example, infidelity clauses are considered unenforceable in California. So are clauses regarding child support and child custody. And so on, and so forth. Your free online prenup form may include unconscionable and unenforceable clauses. Why? Free online prenup forms may not be reviewed and approved by California lawyers, or any lawyers at all. Heck, it could be completely generated by AI and you may have no idea! The fact of the matter is, unless you are a California prenup lawyer, it’s hard to decipher what clauses would be considered unconscionable. If you sign a prenup with unconscionable terms, you run the very likely risk of getting the prenup thrown out.
Problem #3: Free CA prenup forms aren’t tailored to your needs
A form is a form. It’s made for the masses. It doesn’t take into consideration your specific circumstances and needs. It is typically a cookie-cutter contract that may or may not make sense for you. For example, many free online prenups we’ve seen on the internet automatically waive spousal support. This can be dangerous for some people, especially folks who are not self-supporting. Or perhaps the prenup form states that you will maintain a joint bank account together, but that’s not what you want to do. Or maybe it keeps certain assets separate when all you really wanted was to make sure your 401k was separate. The list goes on and on. Prenup forms aren’t customized!
Problem #4: Free CA prenup forms may not follow CA’s law on legal representation
As we said above, many free online prenup forms waive spousal support. Remember, it’s a form made to fit for the masses, and many people want to waive spousal support in their prenups, but it may not make sense for you! Plus, there is a special rule in California that mandates legal representation when you waive or alter spousal support. So, if your free CA prenup form is waiving spousal support, and you do not have an attorney sign off on it, it’s not an enforceable agreement! Big problem!
Problem #5: You may not understand what you are agreeing to in your free CA prenup form
When you download something from the internet, it’s important to carefully read through the terms of the agreement. Even if you’re only concerned with one particular issue, like waiving spousal support, you shouldn’t skim over the rest of the contract. Remember, this is a legally binding agreement, after all! For example, if you use a free prenuptial agreement template and it says that you both agree to waive your elective share–do you know what that means? An elective share is the portion of your spouse’s estate that you’re legally entitled to claim when they pass away. If you weren’t exactly sure what you signed off on, you could be in for a nasty surprise, especially in this scenario, if there were to be an estate battle down the line.
The bottom line (and how HelloPrenup can help)
In conclusion, using a free California prenuptial agreement form poses significant risks. Firstly, these forms typically lack comprehensive guidance on proper execution, leaving people unaware of the specific state requirements, such as notarization or waiting periods. Secondly, the inclusion of unconscionable clauses can render parts of the prenup unenforceable. Third, the generic nature of these forms doesn’t account for your unique needs, potentially leading to unintended consequences. Fourth, overlooking California’s legal representation requirement can result in unenforceable agreements. Fifth, the lack of understanding regarding the legal terms within these forms may lead to unexpected complications in the future.
Considering the above issues, you may want to consider opting for another, more reliable online option, such as HelloPrenup. HelloPrenup’s prenup has been reviewed by numerous CA-licensed attorneys across the state. The platform itself ensures that you are following California state law (e.g., we make sure you get your agreement notarized and follow CA’s 7-day rule). Plus, if you decide to alter spousal support, we offer legal representation services directly through the platform to ensure you comply with that CA law. Finally, we provide tons of legal resources, including videos from real California attorneys, so you feel confident and secure in the agreement you sign.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]