Writing a good prenup agreement is important because it provides legal protection for both parties involved in the marriage. It can help to protect each party’s assets and provide clarity on how finances will be handled if the marriage ends due to death, divorce or separation. It also helps set expectations between both parties in regards to responsibilities and obligations during the marriage. A well-written prenup agreement can help prevent future disputes that could arise later if something happens to cause the end of the relationship.
Writing a prenup is no easy feat. Hence why, lawyers and the makers of HelloPrenup spent eons of time studying the law to learn how to curate the perfect prenup. Specific requirements are necessary for creating a valid prenup, like potentially having a notary or witness. Then, of course, there’s the question of what you can write into it. Keep reading if you’re curious about how to write a prenup agreement.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, or sometimes called a prenup, is a binding agreement between you and your soon-to-be spouse. It outlines specific financial topics, such as property ownership and alimony (i.e., spousal support) in the event of divorce and sometimes death. A prenup can also cover issues like pet ownership, insurance, infidelity, and more (which can depend on your state laws).
Not only does a prenup help outline financial roles and expectations, but it is also a communication tool. It can help put you and your fiance on the same page before the wedding day. How you ask? Well, the prenup process requires you to put all the cards on the table. First, you both have to share your financial and life goals with each other. Does one spouse want to be a stay-at-home parent? Do you even want kids at all? This process forces the tough conversation to happen. Second, you must show all of your assets and liabilities down to the dollar amount. You can’t just say, “Hey, I have some student loans.” You need to go further and actually show the full statement with the balance and interest rate.
Hiring a lawyer and/or using HelloPrenup
HelloPrenup.com is an online platform that helps couples create custom prenuptial agreements quickly and easily. We provide easy-to-follow instructions to help you create a legally binding agreement in just minutes, without having to hire a lawyer or use complicated legal software. All of the documents are created with help of experienced attorneys and updated regularly to ensure they meet all state laws and regulations. In addition, at HelloPrenup, we offer resources such as FAQs, blog posts, videos and more that can help you understand the process better before getting started. With HelloPrenup’s simple yet comprehensive approach, you can be sure your prenup will provide protection for both parties involved in the marriage.
Now, before we dive into actually writing a prenup agreement, let’s take a look at your options for getting it done. First, you can go the traditional and expensive route of hiring a lawyer. A prenup can cost anywhere from $1000 to $10,000, depending on your location, attorney, and situation. Getting a prenup the traditional way can also take some time, given an attorney has other cases they’re working on. It depends on many factors, but a prenup can take a few weeks.
Second, you can go the HelloPrenup route which will cost you a one-time fee of $599 per couple. What’s even better? Having a legally sound prenup in your hands can take as little as an hour and a half. From your sofa, no less! HelloPrenup was created by a divorce attorney and reviewed by other attorneys across the country.
Third, you can do a mix of both. You can use HelloPrenup to create a draft of the prenup and then take it to an attorney’s office for questions or representation. This option STILL saves you money because the attorney won’t have to bill you for the time it takes to draft an actual agreement! That could be thousands of dollars!
Finally, we do not recommend doing a prenup yourself, without HelloPrenup or without a lawyer. This can easily lead to an unenforceable prenup and a big waste of your time, not to mention disappointment.
What do you want to write in your prenup
Now, for the moment, you’ve all been waiting for (drum roll, please). What should you write into your prenup? This is where legal specialization, years of experience, and law school usually comes in handy. Each state has its own prenuptial agreement and divorce laws, which means what is okay in one state, may not be okay in another state. This article does not discuss state-specific laws, just generalized concepts. (Again, another reason why using HelloPrenup and/or an attorney is really important). There is a multitude of topics you can include in your prenup (depending on your state). The most commonly included topic is property division. Let’s see what else might go into a prenup.
Property division falls under this category. An asset is anything with economic value, such as real estate, bank accounts, investment funds, NFTs, artwork, and more. In your prenup, you can decide what happens to your assets. Specifically, do you want to keep the property you owned prior to marriage separate and not subject to division in a divorce? For example, let’s say you bought an apartment years before you met your honey, and it’s paid off with your hard work. Are you okay with that potentially getting divided in a divorce? If the answer is “no way,” then you would want to include this property owned before marriage as separate property, not subject to division.
The dreaded debt talk. Many Americans these days at least have student loans or some type of credit card debt. Are you cool with taking on a portion of your spouse’s debt if you two get divorced? If not, you should include each person’s debt as their own, whether taken out before the marriage or during the marriage.
Inheritances and gifts
Think about what potential inheritances and gifts you might receive and if you want to include that in your prenup. For example, does your Mom send you $5,000 for Christmas every year? That’s a gift and can sometimes be subject to division in a divorce with your ex-spouse, even if it wasn’t meant for them. Same thing with inheritances. Great-Grandma Jo planning on passing down a couple of thousand dollars to you? You can protect that in your prenup by delineating inheritances and gifts as separate property.
Alimony (i.e., spousal support or maintenance)
Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance in some states, is money paid from one ex-spouse to another. This can be included in your prenup, but beware that there are typically many state laws surrounding alimony, which can get tricky. For example, in California, if you alter spousal support in any way, you must hire an attorney. Another example is some states may ignore your alimony clause if it would mean putting the spouse on public assistance.
Other clauses to consider
Remember, this article is not an exhaustive list of all the things that can go into a prenup; just a way to get the brain juices flowing. However, let’s look at some other clauses you might consider adding to your prenup.
Starting off with pet clauses. Some states may enforce clauses in a prenup that dictate pet ownership, including pet costs and care and even visitation schedules! That’s right; you want to see your little Bella every other week if you get a divorce; well, some states may let that happen.
Life insurance. Do you want to add a clause requiring life insurance policies? Go at it! You can even include the death benefit of the dollar amount you want to require. This can be especially important if one of you is in a high-risk field, like the military.
Confidentiality clauses. Maybe your partner is a social media influencer, and you really hate when they post pictures of you. Well, now you can include clauses that prohibit humiliating or disrespectful content of you.
Sunset clauses. This is a great clause to consider if you feel like, after ten years or so, a prenup won’t be necessary anymore; it’s only for if you have a short-lived marriage. A sunset clause “sunsets” the prenup on a certain wedding anniversary date. Meaning that the prenup is no longer in effect after a certain date.
There are many more clauses you can add. You can read about some other clauses in this article here.
Don’t forget about financial disclosure. This is key to creating a valid prenup. Every state requires financial disclosure in one way, shape, or form. Financial disclosure is the sharing of financial information via a financial schedule with your soon-to-be spouse. There is no holding back on certain finances. For example, you can’t just write that you have a retirement account but not include its value. Your partner needs to understand the full landscape of your finances in order to make educated decisions in the prenup.
Don’t forget technical requirements
Last but not least, you must be aware of your state’s technical requirements. For example, the prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Some states require it also be notarized, but not all do. It is best practice to get it notarized either way. Some states also may require a witness or two, so don’t skip out on that; otherwise, you may find yourself with an unenforceable prenup.
Bringing up the conversation with your soon-to-be spouse
Before you can start writing a prenup, you need to know if your spouse is even cool with it. After all, a prenup is an agreement between two people. Both parties need to feel comfortable with the agreement. One common misconception is that prenups are for the wealthy. That’s just not true.
A prenup can protect anyone. You can start there with your spouse. Maybe they’re the ones without the assets and feel like a prenup will not benefit them. Wrong! A prenup can do many things, including sharing certain property and even providing for future alimony (i.e., spousal support).
Tell them prenups are romantic and that being logical is sexy! Prenups are effectively a communication tool. Communication is the root of all romance. Still don’t believe us? Read this article to see the full explanation of how prenups are actually romantic.
Maybe your fiance is hung up on the price of a prenup or the work it will take. Well, never fear; HelloPrenup is here! For just $599 per COUPLE (that’s about $300 per person), you can have a prenup done in an hour and a half from the comfort of your own couch. That should take care of that hang-up!
Finally, maybe your honey just thinks it’s bad luck or thinks it creates animosity. We’re here to tell you: you have a prenup already, it’s called the default divorce laws of your state. That’s right–the state you live in already has a set of guidelines that will guide a judge in splitting up your property. A prenup can override those laws!
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]