Let’s talk money. One of the most important aspects of your prenup is the financial disclosure. Entering into a prenuptial agreement inherently involves giving up some of your legal rights – like to right to receive alimony, for example. So, it’s very important that you are fully aware of the consequences of waiving those rights. Enter the financial disclosure!
A financial disclosure allows both prospective spouses to disclose the state of their finances to each other. By doing so, you become fully informed as to what you are signing up for by marrying your fiancé. Are they $200,000 in debt? Did they just sell their startup for $50 million? These are important things to know regarding decisions you will make in your prenup (also helpful information for marriage in general!).
Financial disclosures are so crucial because they can make or break the enforceability of your prenup. That’s right, failure to disclose your finances, or even a lackluster disclosure, could result in your prenup getting thrown out by a court. Yikes!
Going above and beyond with your financial disclosure is recommended, as it is better safe than sorry! But different states approach the disclosure requirements differently. Some even allow you to waive the disclosure requirements altogether. Let’s take a look at a few different states and the varying levels of required disclosures.
Pennsylvania requires “fair and reasonable” financial disclosure. Fair and reasonable disclosure does not mean that your disclosure has to be perfect or exact. Rather, it needs to give your future spouse enough information to make an informed decision. For example, where a spouse’s financial worth was exactly 10.5 million, a net worth estimation of $10 million was sufficient. In re Kaufmann’s Estate, 404 Pa. 131, 171 A.2d 48 (1961). However, in another real-life example, where a spouse failed to disclose 50% of their assets, the financial disclosure was not fair and reasonable. In re Harris’ Estate, 431 Pa. 293, 245 A.2d 647 (1968).
In California, the level of disclosure must be “fair, reasonable, and full.” This is slightly stricter than the “fair and reasonable” level of Pennsylvania. However, California also gives you the option to waive part of your financial disclosure requirements. Let’s say you’ve provided your fiancé with the overall big picture of your finances to their satisfaction. Then, your fiancé could sign a waiver indicating that they are satisfied with the level of disclosure provided. And, you’re in luck! HelloPrenup provides this form for you.
Washington requires full and frank disclosure of finances prior to entering into a prenuptial agreement. While the exact numbers are not required, the disclosure should provide “full and fair disclosure of all material facts relating to the amount, character and value of the property [or assets] involved”. Friedlander v. Friedlander, 80 Wn.2d 293, 302, 494 P.2d 208, 214 (1972).
Ohio requires parties to disclose the nature, amount, and value of property. For example, where one spouse disclosed the nature and amount of his property, the court found the disclosure to be lacking. His financial disclosure informed his wife that he owned an undivided one-sixth interest in a piece of property in Cuyahoga County. However, it did not include a monetary valuation. The court determined that this disclosure was lacking. Juhasz v. Juhasz, 134 Ohio St. 257, 263, 16 N.E.2d 328, 331 (1938)
In Connecticut, fair and reasonable disclosure of the amount, character and value of property is required. However, if your fiancé has independent knowledge of your financial circumstances, disclosure may not be required at all. Oldani v. Oldani, 132 Conn.App. 609, 34 A.3d 407. But be aware, this is an issue that could be litigated down the road so it’s never a bad idea to disclose anyway!
Georgia requires full and fair disclosure of assets between partners. Importantly, you should not fail to include assets which are considered “material” to your overall financial picture. Take the case of Blige v. Blige for example. Mr. Blige had somewhat modest assets, or so it seemed. He disclosed his yearly income and the value of the physical property he owned valued at $85,000. However, he failed to disclose to his partner that he had $150,000 sitting in the bank. The court considered this fact “material” to his overall financial status and ultimately invalidated the prenup. Blige v. Blige, 283 Ga. 65, 656 S.E.2d 822 (2008).
Overall, we can’t stress enough how important it is to properly disclose your finances. While you should definitely check out the requirements for your state, it never hurts, in terms of ensuring the validity of your prenup, to go above and beyond disclosure requirements!
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].