After a beautiful dinner by the sunset, he proposes. She gleefully accepts. The couple starts to plan out their wedding and the topic of a prenuptial agreement comes up. Still fresh and giddy from the glow of romance, is it appropriate to discuss the potential demise of the marriage?
Some people think a prenuptial agreement (prenups) insinuates that the couple cares more about money than about love. However, prenuptial agreements can save you a lot of time and heartache in the future. So, should you get a prenuptial agreement?
Prenuptial Agreements 101
A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding agreement between two people who intend to marry that deals specifically with the arrangement of property. The prenuptial agreement scope can extend from spouse support to the division of property. Couples plan out and discuss the division and terms of their property to how they see fit.
Of course, all your assets are going to go into a prenuptial agreement. You should determine if you are going to share it or divide it before the marriage. This includes stocks, retirement money, real estate, alimony, inheritance, college loans, and other debt.
Couples with any type of stock or retirement money should both figure out how they are going to plan on dealing with the increase in the account value when they (hopefully) go up. In regards to debt, couples should keep the each individual's debt separate so in case of a split, one person does not have to pay back the other person's debt. Also, one person might have hundreds and thousands of dollars in assets and just wants protection in case the marriage does not work out.
Prenuptial agreements should be used to protect your current or future assets. Prenups are a fantastic way to bolster your financial security, no matter where you are financially. Prenups are far from romantic, but they are designed to protect oneself from the legal ramifications associated with divorce and death.
In short, prenups are an insurance. Marriage is one of the biggest financial agreements you'll ever enter yourself into, and most people just jump into it without any insurance to protect their assets if things go sour.
The stigma attached to prenups is that couples need a prenup because they don’t trust each other, and you don’t think the marriage will last. When asking your significant other for a prenup, you can combat the stigma by telling your significant other, as time goes on, you can slowly remove clauses in the prenup: in 2 years you will revisit the prenup and restructure it, in 5 years you will revisit the prenup, in 10 years you will revisit the prenup, and in 20 years, you might toss the prenup away entirely.
Prenups are a fallback for the worst case scenarios. The reason most people have life insurance is to protect themselves if the worst case scenario happens. All prenups do is sets the expectations and defaults between couples before there is tension and negativity between them. You would want to seek legal counsel to write this legal contract to provide you the most effective prenup.
Here is a helpful infographic made by Bishop Law Office with tips to planning an effective prenuptial agreement: