After having the (sometimes) awkward conversation and then spending the time and money to draft a prenup, you’re probably wondering, will our prenup expire? Thankfully, the time probably isn’t ticking on your prenuptial agreement. However, even though it doesn’t have a stamped expiration date, a few scenarios could create an expiration date on your prenup.
Turning A New Page
Prenups have started to shake off their past reputation and are becoming more widely sought by young couples. Historically, people had a few ideas when it came to prenups. First, it was more readily accepted that prenups were only for the wealthy. Why would you need a prenup if you didn’t have five luxury cars and a mega-mansion? Today, a prenup doesn’t just cover your possessions. It can also make arrangements for what happens to property, debt, and how spousal support will be covered. Even if you aren’t rich, a prenup provides valuable protection in case your marriage doesn’t work out and also clarity relating to finances during your marriage.
Speaking of divorce, the second belief about prenups was that getting one automatically sets your marriage up for failure. Today, younger generations are realizing that a prenuptial agreement is plainly wise, not a predictor of their relationship outcomes. In fact, a prenup may help prevent divorce by encouraging you and your significant other to discuss financial expectations early on in your partnership.
Though 40% of today’s couples are getting prenups, and certainly that means many people are wondering, ‘does my prenup expire?’
Do Prenups Expire?
In general, prenups don’t expire. They’re designed to go into effect should your marriage end by divorce or death. There are no expiration dates on prenups regardless of the state they’re written in, where you get married, or where you end up living. Additionally, it doesn’t matter whether you stay married for thirty days or thirty years.
What Can Cause the End of a Prenup
A sunset clause, or sunset provision, is essentially an expiration date. They can be beautiful additions to your prenup, giving you and your partner both the protection and optimism you need (the best of both worlds if you ask us!). In the most basic terms, a sunset clause will allow your prenup to terminate after an agreed-upon amount of time.
For example, your prenup may expire after ten years of marriage. Upon getting married, individual wealth, assets, debt, and property usually become shared marital wealth, meaning it is divided equally in the event of a divorce. In some circumstances, one person in the relationship stands to lose a lot if this happens. But possibly, after ten years of wedded bliss, your financial situations would have evened out, and the default laws of your state would be fair enough in the event of a divorce.
One such couple with a sunset clause is the celebrity duo Beyonce and Jay-Z. Their prenup says Beyonce earns $1 million extra from the estate every year they’re married. But, it expires after 15 years of marriage. Or, maybe with each wedding anniversary, more and more of your independent wealth becomes shared. This is another way to use a sunset clause–where parts of the prenup are phased out as certain conditions are met.
The bottom line? Your prenup shouldn’t expire unless you want it to. In this case, you would include a sunset clause.
A Noteworthy Mention
Prenups do not expire without a sunset clause, point blank period. However, along the same vein is one small, noteworthy point. Some prenups created many years before the divorce may be invalidated in some states. This is because life circumstances may have changed so significantly that it would cause an unfair outcome to honor the prenup. This is not to say that the prenup is “expired,” but that the court may ignore it because it is so outdated that the prenup doesn’t really “make sense” anymore.
Can I Change My Prenup?
The good news is that you can usually amend a prenup as long as both spouses sign a written amendment. Each state has specific requirements for this amendment. You can also create a postnuptial agreement, which is similar to a prenup, but only done after you’re married instead of before.
Prenups are a worthwhile investment that won’t expire automatically. They’re an excellent way to start your marriage off on the right foot, being open and honest about your financial situation. No one wants to have doubts (or, at least, admit it) about their partner, just like no one wants to believe they’ll get into an auto accident. A prenuptial agreement is like insurance for your marriage; it’s a wise decision! If you’re concerned about your prenup overstaying its welcome, you could always include a sunset clause, sign an amendment, or get a postnup.
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].