If you are in love and planning your wedding, you are likely getting swept up in the romance. A prenup may be the last thing you want to think about, so you have put it on the back burner. Some people don’t even want to discuss it. Yikes! If you’re in the midst of planning your wedding when you first begin to talk prenups with your honey, you might even forget about a prenuptial agreement altogether. Until it’s too late.
Do you know how many couples reach out to us and ask, “is it too late to get a prenup? We got married last week.”
“We ran out of time but we really did want to get a prenup.”
“What if we just back-date the agreement? Doesn’t that count?”
No, no no.
You cannot sign your prenup after your married. A prenup must be created prior to marriage. And, if you missed the boat? You cannot get a prenup.
As you probably know if you are reading this article, a prenup, or premarital agreement, is crucial to clarity and understanding in your married life, and you should draft it as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know about prenup agreements and why you should include one in your wedding checklist.
Why is a prenup important?
You’re happily engaged, and you could never imagine losing your partner. Good! Because that isn’t what a prenup is about. A prenup is about deciding for yourselves how you want your assets, income or debt to be categorized. State law dictates how your assets, income and debt would be divided upon a divorce, so its important to know whether you are comfortable with that default, or whether a prenup would allow you to contract to an agreement you are happy with. “But doesn’t that mean I’m planning for divorce?” Not exactly.
Believe it or not, people use prenuptial agreements simply to organize how they view assets, income or debt. Such assets may include real estate, businesses, and financial accounts. Debt may include credit card debt, student loans, personal loans, etc. For example, with no prenuptial agreement, if one spouse owned a home for years before the marriage took place, whether it be a marital home or a second home or even an investment property (!) the home (with all its equity) could be split in a divorce. That means the other spouse might be entitled to a portion of that equity that existed even before the marriage. You may be ok with that. Maybe you are not ok with that. This is why it is important to talk about these things.
Some couples who are entering second marriages also use prenups as a way of protecting assets for their children they had prior to the marriage. In this instance, a prenup can serve to safeguard any assets and property they wish to leave their children by categorizing it as separate from the marital estate.
Additionally, a prenuptial agreement can protect a spouse from the other spouse’s debts. This may include student debt, credit card debt, etc. Many millennials and gen-z-ers today, have astronomical amounts of student debt.
You can discuss spousal support in a prenup, but not child custody and child support (in most states)
Ways Your Prenuptial Agreement Will Help
Okay, we don’t mean to state the obvious, but in case a divorce or separation occurs, a prenuptial agreement makes life easier. There is not much left to fight about, because you have it figured out.
Prenuptial agreements offer both partners protection and a sense of security. This is contrary to the belief that they set the groundwork for divorce. A prenuptial agreement allows couples to set expectations for their marriages, and that level of communication and transparency when it comes to finances is crucial for a happy and successful marriage.
Drafting a Prenup
DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE.
We have said it so many times. Because this is really important. Do not wait until the week before your wedding to start the process of drafting a prenup.
First of all, there must be transparency from the beginning of this process, with both sides disclosing all financial information. Additionally, you need to leave plenty of time to go over the terms of the agreement and the financial disclosures before signing. Want legal advice? You will need time for that.
Why do you need to leave yourself enough time? Let’s recap:
✅ You or your honey may need time to process the idea of getting a prenup and may have questions as to motivations, etc.;
✅ You need time to talk about the terms of the agreement;
✅ Your financial schedule is super important, and you need enough time for full financial disclosure- think bank balances, values for all of your assets and inheritance, income for the past three years; and
✅ If either of you choose to hire a lawyer, you need time. Finding the right lawyer is important, and should not be rushed, along with the reality that your ideal attorney may not be available immediately. Don’t rush this process!
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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]