To cut to the chase: anyone can get a prenup. There’s no requirement that says you need a certain amount of money or status to get a prenup. Even if you have $0 in the bank, a prenup could still be beneficial to you in several ways. It’s a common misconception that prenups are only for the rich and famous, and if you don’t have a billion dollars, then it’s a waste of your time. And that assumption is completely false! Keep reading to learn some of the ways different people can benefit from prenups.
You have assets
Assets can be anything from $1 in your bank account to a $10 million dollar house. Real estate, bank accounts, retirement funds, vehicles, artwork, jewelry, crypto, NFTs, etc., etc., they’re all assets. Basically, anything you own with economic value is an asset that may be worth protecting. A prenup can help you with that. You don’t need to have a billion dollars worth of assets to get a prenup. In fact, most people do not have millions of dollars but still opt for a prenup. Why? Because money is money, and even if you don’t have a lot, you should still consider protecting it!
Let’s use an example to demonstrate. You have a small apartment you purchased years before meeting your boo. It is paid off in full. You don’t get a prenup because you don’t really think you have enough money that a prenup would be “worth” it, and the apartment is only worth about $250,000. Plus, you bought it before you even knew your spouse. You get married and live happily for a few years until things go south, and the marriage ends. The court ends up deciding that your home should be considered marital property due to several reasons. This means your apartment will be divided in some way (generally meaning you either sell it and split the proceeds or the other person buys out the other). Womp, womp, womp. If you had a prenup, you could’ve dictated that this apartment should remain your separate property and yours alone.
You are a stay-at-home parent
If you are the homemaker and main child caretaker, then a prenup may be a good thing to consider. Let’s put it this way: stay-at-home parents don’t receive a “real” income (although they work very hard). The equivalent salary of a stay-at-home parent’s work is about $126,725! However, that money is not realized in the form of a salary but rather is more like an exchange with the other spouse who provides financial support. A prenup can help those stay-at-home parents feel safe and provided for, even in the event of a divorce. It’s a misconception that a prenup only benefits the wealthier spouse. In reality, a prenup can also greatly benefit a stay-at-home parent with fewer finances. How would this work? Well, there are several ways you can provide for a stay-at-home parent in a prenup. For one, you can provide a lump sum payment to the stay-at-home parent to equalize some of the wealth should the marriage ever go south. Another way you could do this is by allowing the stay-at-home parent to remain in the primary residence for a significant period of time. You could also make sure to keep alimony (i.e., spousal support) on the table (whereas many people choose to waive this option). Keeping alimony on the table allows the court to decide the proper amount of alimony that should be awarded to the stay-at-home parent if any.
You have an inheritance coming your way
Maybe you have no money now, but you will one day, thanks to Grandma Mary and your dear old Dad. Even though it may seem like eons away, you feel like you don’t even need to bother with a prenup now. Plus, inheritances are usually protected, right? WRONG! Inheritances are not automatically “safe” from being split up in a divorce, despite popular belief. If you have a future inheritance, then a prenup may be for you.
Not only inheritances but gifts, as well. What do we mean by gifts? Well, has your Mom or Dad or friend or Grandma ever written you a really large check for Christmas or a birthday? Or, if you’re really lucky, maybe you’ve been gifted a house. Well, these things would be considered a gift and may be worth protecting in a prenup. Not to mention all those wedding gifts you may be receiving after walking down the aisle. A prenup can delineate what should happen to gifts if the marriage ever comes to an end.
You or your spouse have debt
With student loans consistently hovering at about $30,000 per borrower, current undergraduate interest rates at nearly 5%, and graduate student interest rates between roughly 6.5% to 7.5%, it’s a no-brainer that people with partners that have student loans should consider getting a prenup. And that’s just for the student loans. What about car loans, credit card debt, and business loans? All of these kinds of debt can become a mutual debt in the event of a divorce, even if only one person borrowed it. Yikes! In a prenup, you can dictate that pre-marital debt and debt incurred during the marriage should be the borrower’s debt and their debt alone. Phew! So, even if you have no money but you have some debt or your partner has some debt, a prenup may be a good idea.
A large discrepancy in wealth
Many people assume that prenups only protect the wealthier person, and it’s simply not true. Prenups should be a win-win, and both people should feel safe and comfortable with the potential outcome. If a couple has a large wealth discrepancy between each other, a prenup can help both sides.
Let’s use an example to demonstrate. Let’s say Lily has a net worth of about $5,000, and Pete has a net worth of around $10 million. Pete wants a prenup to make sure he protects his hard-earned assets, namely his $2 million NYC apartment and $5 million New Mexico vacation home (which are his pride and joy). Lily is hesitant about getting a prenup until she learns how a prenup can help balance out the financial inequalities between her and Pete. She learns that she can actually add a lump sum payment in the event of a divorce, which could help her feel supported even in the worst-case scenario. Lily knows how much Pete’s real estate means to him, so she agrees that he should keep those his separate property, but in exchange, she wants to require a lump sum payment of $300,000. This would at least allow her to get on her feet and feel some level of independence both in the relationship and in the event the marriage comes to an end.
You have pets
Maybe you don’t have many assets, future inheritances, or wealth discrepancies, but you do have some four-legged friends! If this is you, then you should definitely consider a prenup to declare ownership of your pets. A prenup can dictate who has “custody” (i.e., ownership) and financial responsibility of your pets. Some states may even allow you to add a pet visitation schedule to your prenup!
Without a prenup, sweet little Fluffy could be treated like a piece of personal property in the eyes of the court, and they could potentially award her to the person who purchased the pet or some other property ownership factor without considering emotional and well-being factors. Some states, like California, are trending towards a more humane way of determining pet ownership in divorces by taking into consideration the well-being of the pet, but it’s still a very large majority of states that do not.
For example, let’s say you and your partner have two dogs you bought together when you got engaged. Bella and Max. They are both your pride and joy, and you want to make sure they’re taken care of in any situation, even a divorce. So, you go to HelloPrenup.com, sign up for a prenup, and start the questionnaire. Eventually, you get to the pet section, which allows you to dictate which pet will go to which spouse. After some discussion, you ultimately land on the decision that Bella should be yours and Max should be your partner’s. Although it’s sad to think about splitting up the family, it’s nice to have control and peace of mind over any outcome.
You or your spouse work in a high-risk industry
If you or your spouse work in a high-risk industry, such as the military, you may want to consider a prenup for the life insurance clause. Adding a life insurance clause to your prenup will require your partner to maintain a life insurance policy, in your benefit, with a certain death benefit amount. And vice versa, they can also require you to have one, as well. Although it may be morbid to think about, this can help bring you peace of mind in knowing that you or your spouse will be covered if the worst were to occur.
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]