The short answer is yes – there is no law that says an online prenup is not valid. In fact, most states have no requirement that couples must hire an attorney to draft a prenup. There are two main kinds of online prenups – templated platforms vs. HelloPrenups’ dual participation, state specific platform. Keep reading to learn about online prenups, how you can create one with or without a lawyer, and some pitfalls of using a template platform.
What is a prenup?
A prenuptial agreement (i.e., a prenup) is a contract between two people about to get married. Prenups are effective upon marriage (no marriage, no prenup). A prenup covers topics such as property division, debt allocation, and spousal support in the event of a divorce and, sometimes, death.
Why get a prenup?
You hope to never have to use your prenup, but if the worst happens, then people are generally glad they got them. Why? Because prenups speed up the divorce process and save you money along the way. How? By deciding on certain issues in advance, such as property division, alimony, and debt allocation. This saves time spent arguing in a courtroom and sitting in your attorney’s office. In turn, you save money on attorney’s fees.
Prenups are also a tool for in-depth communication because the prenup-making process forces you and your partner to talk about the tough stuff, like death, divorce, debt, income, etc. Getting a prenup can align you and your future spouse on life and financial goals and your expectations for each other.
And, of course, prenups can protect your “stuff.” That could be a house, a car, a diamond ring, an NFT, crypto, retirement funds, businesses, inheritances, and more. You can use a prenup to outline what’s yours and what’s ours.
What is an online prenup?
Okay, so you know what a prenup is, but what on earth is an online prenup? Traditionally, prenups were drafted by attorneys, printed out by the attorney (or emailed), and handed over to their client in their office. This is still the case for many folks. However, as with most things in the 21st century, technology got to the prenup world and started changing things a bit.
An online prenup is essentially a way to draft your own prenup online, a way to do it yourself without the hassle of attorneys’ offices and fees. Most websites out there are simply prenup templates that are literally copy-and-paste contracts with no customization to the couples’ needs. You just plop in your names, addresses, and signatures, and bam, you’ve got your prenup. The language remains the same for anyone who downloads it. This isn’t the best way to go about getting a prenup because you may have completely different needs than Joe Shmoe down the road, yet you’re getting the same templated prenup as them. Enter: HelloPrenup. Dun, dun, dun.
HelloPrenup is changing the game of online prenups with our dual participation and state specific platform. Instead of a copy-and-paste contract that you only plop in your names and addresses, you are actually interacting with an in-depth questionnaire that helps truly customize the contract to your goals. Everything from property division to pets, HelloPrenup can help you create a contract you feel comfortable with that puts you in control and tailors it exactly to your needs.
The pitfalls of using an online template
Let’s look at some examples to demonstrate how an online template can be dangerous.
Not following state requirements
Mary and Dan are thinking about getting an online prenup with a website that only provides templated prenups. They figure that their finances and goals aren’t too complicated, so their needs should fit into a template made for the masses. In the templated prenup, alimony (i.e., spousal support) is waived for both parties. They sign the contract, notarize it, and call it a day. However, this waiver of alimony clause just created a huge problem if they live in California. In California, a lawyer is required whenever spousal support is altered in a prenup. Therefore, they likely just created a totally invalid prenup. Not only did they waste time and money, but now they have no prenup.
Remember, each state has its own set of requirements that may not be the same as the state next door. This is why using HelloPrenup or an attorney is useful to make sure that you are following the state requirements to a tee in order to avoid an invalid prenup.
Not tailored properly to their needs
Josh and Gabby are browsing online for a prenup. They come across a website that offers templated prenups for engaged couples. They skim through it, but without any legal training, they don’t fully understand every last term. However, to them, it looks professional and legit, so why not? The prenup template fails to mention what should happen to inheritances or gifts. They execute the prenup, get married, and live happily ever after… for a few years. Around year four of the marriage, Gabby receives a $50,000 inheritance from her grandfather. In year five, they get a divorce. Gabby’s inheritance may not be safe from being divided in the divorce. It really depends on the state law and their specific situation. Had she gotten a valid prenup with an inheritance clause (for example, maybe through HelloPrenup or an attorney), she would have been able to protect this money.
Financial disclosure gone wrong
Matt and Kelly are set on getting an online prenup with one of those “free” websites that provide prenup templates. They think to themselves, why not? It’s free! In the template, the financial disclosure section simply states that they acknowledge financial disclosure has been done, and they attach it to the back of their prenup. They have no idea what this means, so they do some research. From what they understand, they need to write out a list of all of their assets and liabilities. They do so but fail at one very important thing. They didn’t include a monetary value next to each item. Remember, financial disclosure is required so each party has an idea of what their spouse has and what they may be giving up in a prenup. If your spouse is housing a million-dollar bank account, wouldn’t you want to know? It may change your mind on some decisions you make regarding the prenup. So, if Matt and Kelly ever get divorced, and one of them tries to enforce the prenup, a court may decline to do so because it might find that this level of financial disclosure was not enough.
HelloPrenup offers a compliant and thorough section to help walk you and your partner through the financial disclosure phase. There will be a place to list all of your assets and include a dollar amount. The same goes for hiring an attorney. If you hire an attorney, they should make sure you complete the financial disclosure section properly.
Benefits of online prenups
With interactive prenup-making platforms (hint: HelloPrenup), where your contract is customized to your needs and is state compliant, there can be many benefits. These include saving you time spent in an attorney’s office, saving you money on attorney’s fees, allowing you to take the driver’s seat in the prenup process, and keeping you far away from any uncomfortable convos with a stiff attorney.
With HelloPrenup, you can get a prenup in just an hour and a half. Going the traditional route of in-person attorney’s offices, it could take weeks to get a prenup in hand.
Generally, online prenups are going to be much, much cheaper than paying an attorney. HelloPrenup costs just $599 per couple. Using an attorney can cost up to $10,000 or even more if you have an especially complex case.
You take control
With online prenup platforms like HelloPrenup that allow you to pick and choose the clauses and what the clauses say, you have a ton of control over what goes into your prenup.
No awkward conversations
Doing a prenup online means skipping the awkward conversations you will have with an attorney. They will ask you extremely personal and financial questions that may be uncomfortable (but necessary) to discuss.
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]