Gettin’ hitched! Checklist
This “you’re about to get hitched omg omg omg” checklist is designed to get you in the mood for marriage (without sugar coating real situations that most couples find themselves in when it’s just too late).
To give you some insight into what you’re getting into with your marriage and a prenup, we’ve created an exercise for you and your partner to get deep ~ super deep ~ and set yourselves up for success before you even say “I do.”
These questions will help you build a strong foundation for your marriage by providing clarity on most of the toughest marital topics, gear you up for a bulletproof prenup, and create a strong strategy for getting through this marriage – confidently.
✨ Let’s roll! ✨
Assets & debts
What will happen to premarital property (literally, property you owned before marriage in the event of separation or divorce?)
Will premarital property remain as separate property in the event of divorce, meaning that it will not become joint marital property?
What about student debt, credit card debt, or any other debts acquired before getting married? Will premarital debts remain separate debts in the event of divorce?
How will we pay off any debt brought into the marriage? Separately? Or together?
How will we pay off any debt that is accrued while married? If one of us goes back to school for a graduate degree or other training, will those loans be both of our obligations?
What’s yours is mine
How do you want to handle income and assets that are acquired while married?
Will you split everything 50/50? Or are some purchases separate?
If one party (party A) spends money on the other party (party B) to help with debt from education, vocational training, or any career training, does party B have to reimburse party A for their contribution towards party B’s success?
If you each contribute to the purchase of a primary residence, will you both share in contribution to the down payment equally? How will the equity be distributed in the event of separation or divorce? What about any investment properties?
What’s mine is mine
Will you have joint bank accounts, separate, or both?
If there is a joint account, does either spouse have to ask the other if they can purchase something? Or potentially empty out the account without asking? Will each of you contribute to the joint bank account to cover expenses? How much of your salaries will you contribute each pay period, month or year and will you contribute a set amount or a percentage of your income? Remember, if you do contribute to a joint bank account, that money will be considered marital property in a prenuptial agreement because it is in both of your names.
Do either of you need to ask the other for permission to buy essentials like wine, Lulu, and pedicures?
What’s the best way for each of you to bring up finances during your marriage? Face to face? Text? Fax? Maybe you have a set monthly “discuss it over dinner” meeting?
If you don’t have a set time to chat about moolah, when is the best time to bring up finances? Whenever? Regularly? Never?
What are your goals for saving? Do you have individual or team goals? If you have team goals, will you invest that money? Keep it in a savings account? Shove it under your mattress? (not recommended)
Will future inheritance be considered separate property of the spouse who inherited it? Or will it be considered property of the marriage?
Will gifts from family members to either spouse be considered separate or joint marital / community property? What about gifts from family members that are given to both of you?
“We-tired af” goals
What retirement goals do you want to set for yourselves? What about together?
Who are the beneficiaries of your estate? Each other? The kids? Fluffy the dog?
Can one “retire” early and the other work forever? If so, how will you address spending responsibilities?
If there is separate property by retirement age, does it make sense for you to just combine everything by a certain date and make it marital property? You should read about a sunset clause…
Credit where credit is due
If you don’t have any credit, will your spouse take out the loans?
Do you know each other’s credit scores? What are they?
Do you plan to pledge your home (that is community property / marital property) as collateral on a business? Or use it towards a line of credit to fund a business? In the event of divorce, will the business owner reimburse the opposite party?
Back to our question about purchasing a home together. Will you share in the down payment? How will the mortgage debt from your house be divided if you decide to split later on?
If your prenuptial agreement states that one of you is able to remain in the home for a period of time after legal separation or divorce, who will pay for the mortgage and expenses?
(Wo)man’ing the homefront
If one of you stops working (and receiving income) to stay home for childcare, how long makes sense?
If one of you gives up their career (and stops receiving income) temporarily or permanently to stay home to care for children, how will the stay at home spouse be reimbursed in the event of separation or divorce? Will they be financially restored in some way?
If one of you stops working (and receiving income) to remain at home with the kids, will the working spouse (income receiver) be responsible for paying 100% of the bills? What about spending money for the spouse working from home?
If you choose to financially restore the stay at home party, how will that be done? Will lump sum payments be made to them upon divorce at set increments? Hint: A Lump Sum payment clause can specify that upon divorce, based on the length of marriage, certain lump sum payments can be made by one spouse to the other.
If one of you decides to change careers and make less money, do they need permission from the other spouse?
If one spouse decides to make less money, how will it affect your bills?
If one spouse changes careers to a riskier job (risky could refer to financially risky like starting a business, or a physically risky job like becoming a tightrope walker) will they be responsible for contributing to bills if they become disabled on the job?
Alimony / all-muh-money
In the event of separation or divorce, do you believe in spousal support or alimony payments?
If you don’t believe in spousal support, are you prepared to both waive your rights to alimony within your prenup?
If one of you stays home for childcare, should they receive additional support from the wealthier spouse post-divorce to compensate for the fact that their career was put on hold and they now have a decreased earning potential?
Will you file jointly? Or separately?
If one of you usually receives a tax return, but will no longer be eligible for an independent return if you file jointly, will the other spouse compensate the return?
What about previous tax debt that is bought into the marriage?
Higher (to a certain) degree
Will one of you plan to go back to school while married?
Will one of you support the other while going back to school?
How will you deal with the financial adjustment if you go down to only one income?
How will student loans be paid off?
Should we check back in regarding our prenup once we have kids? Or draft the prenup as if we plan to have kids? (Remember, you cannot contract away the rights of children like child support or child custody, but you can keep other financial considerations in mind)
Does it make sense for your prenup to expire, in the form of a sunset clause on the 5th, 10th, 15th, or 20th anniversary? Or something alike?
It’s just business
Does your prenup protect your family from debt, taxes, back taxes or payroll taxes that could overflow from your business into your personal life?
Is your business protected from any financial hardships (debt, etc) that could come from your spouse?
Will the equity of the business (or the value appreciation of your business) be separate or marital property? What about in the event of a divorce?
Let’s say you get separated 30 years from now. You’ve been separated for quite some time, but haven’t legally filed for divorce yet. Does it make sense to have all of your property go to the other spouse? Or your children? Extended family?
Who will inherit from you?
Does life insurance make sense for you?
Will either of you have immediate access to funds if either of you dies?
Do you have any particular things (heirlooms, memories, pictures) that should go to someone in the event you pass?
Do you want to include a death clause in your prenuptial agreement? In HelloPrenup, this clause states that should you or your future spouse die, the terms of your prenuptial agreement will remain in effect, as though you were alive. By adding this clause, you and your future spouse are waiving all rights to each other’s estate that you would normally have as a surviving spouse.
You made it!
YOU’RE OFFICIALLY READY TO START YOUR PRENUP!
BUT, this exercise was designed to give you insight into what too many couples seem to face (when it’s frankly too late and extremely real). By getting these tough questions out of the way, you have softened any burdens that could be bestowed upon you, created a clear roadmap for your marriage, and opened up the doors for some serious compromising (and those compromising muscles only get stronger when flexed regularly).
If it wasn’t painful, you may not have done it right (so feel free to hit the back button and start from the top to clarify any of the topics between you).
Congrats on your marriage – we know you got this!
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