When going through the prenup-making process, you should consider your future and the possible life changes you may experience. For example, will you have children? Will one person stay at home with the kids? What does your career trajectory look like? What if there are illnesses or disabilities? Do you have any future inheritances? Businesses? The list goes on and on. You should consider discussing future possibilities with your future spouse in order to incorporate the correct clauses into your prenup.
Future Possibilities in a Prenup to Discuss With Your Partner
So, what topics should you discuss with your partner as it pertains to future possibilities in a prenup? Let’s dive in.
One of the most important topics to discuss includes whether or not you two will have children.
- If you do plan on children:
- Will one of you stay home with the children?
- How will you plan your finances with children?
- If you’re unsure:
- Discuss the plan for both options: what will life be like WITH children (will someone stay at home, how will finances work)? And without children.
- If you do not want children:
- Is there a possibility this could change?
- What about “oopsies”?
- What will your financial goals be without children?
These questions above are the things you’ll want to discuss with your partner as they pertain to prenups.
Let’s discuss the way having (or not having) children plays into a prenup:
- If someone forfeits a career to stay home with the kids, they may be more interested in including alimony and lump sum clauses.
- The stay-at-home parent or primary caretaker may want to remain in the marital home (primary residence clause) with the kids in the event of a divorce.
- WARNING: You typically CANNOT include child matters into your prenup, such as child support or child custody.
What do both of your career trajectories look like? Are you both avid career-ists who plan on climbing the corporate ladder until you’re Logan Roy on Succession? You should discuss with your partner what your career goals are because it can affect what goes into your prenup! If you’re after the CEO position, then you may want to consider including certain clauses that will protect your future money because you never know what the future will hold.
Maybe you’re a serial entrepreneur with big business plans. Or maybe you are on the fence about starting a business. Either way, you can make sure to protect your future business interests (even if they never happen). This is something to discuss with your future spouse.
For example, let’s say you’ve always dreamt of starting your own restaurant. You’re not sure you’ll ever pull the trigger, but you’ve daydreamt about it for years. You may want to include in your prenup a section for protecting future businesses, in this case, whether or not the restaurant actually comes to fruition.
Whether or not you’re marrying someone with debt now, there is always the future possibility that they do accumulate debt down the road. You may want to discuss this with your future spouse and decide if you want to include a provision in your prenup that keeps future debt separate.
For example, let’s say you have a prenup that makes sure all debt acquired during the marriage by each person is kept separate. One person ends up taking out $50,000 in credit card debt during the marriage due to a failed business. You couldn’t have predicted it before the marriage, but luckily, your prenup has you covered, and you don’t have to absorb any of that $50,000 in the divorce.
Death of Either Spouse
Planning for your future spouse’s (or your own) death is never a fun thought, but it’s always a possibility, unfortunately. You never know what the future will hold, and discussing this future possibility is crucial. There are two ways you can incorporate death into your prenup: life insurance and a death clause.
With a life insurance clause, you can require your partner to maintain life insurance with you as the beneficiary. This covers you financially in the future possibility that your spouse passes away (and vice versa).
With a death clause, you can make sure your separate assets only go through your estate planning documents (i.e., your will). This may or may not mean that your spouse gets your separate property; it would depend on what you write into your will.
Possible Illnesses and/or Disabilities
No one is 100% safe from obtaining an illness or disability. Unfortunately, things happen, and sometimes people get injured or sick for longer periods of time. This is something to discuss with your partner. The things you can include in your prenup to cover for possible illnesses or disabilities may include the following:
- Health insurance: This provision requires the spouse with the health insurance to keep their ex-spouse on the insurance for a set amount of time post-divorce.
- Life insurance: A life insurance provision typically requires one or both spouses to maintain life insurance on behalf of the other. This can cover the surviving spouse in the event that their partner passes away from a severe illness or disability.
- Alimony: Leaving in the possibility of alimony can be helpful for someone with a serious illness or disability that prevents them from being able to work. For example, let’s say you become paralyzed and can no longer work your construction job. If you had waived alimony in your prenup and it is enforced, it may create a financial hardship for you. On the other hand, by leaving in alimony, you can make sure you are taken care of, even in this really tough situation.
What are you and your spouse’s idea of retirement? What does the future hold in that regard? Do you both plan on retiring at age 45 and living on a farm in Wyoming? Or maybe you’re corporate-lifers and never plan on leaving the workforce until they drag you out. Whatever the case may be, you may want to discuss what the future possibilities for retirement look like. Why does it matter for a prenup? Well, when you retire is typically based on the amount of money you have, so including clauses like joint bank account, joint tax filing, and protecting assets can ensure that your individual and couple goals for retirement are met in any scenario.
If either spouse is expecting to receive an inheritance one day in the future, that should be discussed. Why? Because you can protect future inheritances, even if they’re not in your hands just yet. What exactly should you discuss? You should discuss whether or not you want to keep those future inheritances separate property or not. Remember, if something is considered separate property, that means the other spouse doesn’t “get” any of it.
Sort of along the same line as inheritances are gifts. You never know WHAT gifts you’ll receive in your lifetime. Maybe your parents are wealthy and love to shower you with presents. Or maybe you’re just not sure what gifts you might receive (you have a really rich uncle, maybe?). Either way, you should discuss the future possibility of gifts with your partner and determine how you want to treat them in a prenup.
For example, you can include in your prenup that any gifts you receive (even if you have no clue what those gifts are right now) are kept separate in the event of a divorce. That could even include gifts exchanged between you and your partner or gifts from a third party.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Of course, no one goes into a marriage expecting to get a divorce, but sometimes life just happens. And to protect yourself from that possibility, you may want to discuss alternative ways to resolve divorce issues, like arbitration or mediation. With these two types of alternative dispute resolution, you may be able to resolve your divorce without a courtroom. Options like mediation and arbitration can often be less stressful and even a cheaper option than traditional divorce through litigation. Including this as a requirement in your prenup can make sure you are covered (by way of saving money, time, and stress) in the future possibility of getting a divorce.
Last but definitely not least is the future possibility of who gets the pet. Right now, of course, you both LOVE and adore Fluffy… but Fluffy is YOUR dog. You’ve had her for years, and your partner is just their new parent, as much as they love her. You can discuss the option of including pet custody in your prenup to make sure Fluffy stays with you in the event of a divorce.
The Bottom Line
There are so many unknowns in life, and trying to discuss every single future possibility with your spouse is near impossible. However, there are some future possibilities that directly relate to clauses you can include in your prenup, such as future assets, alimony, gifts, inheritances, possible illnesses or disabilities, death, and more.
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]