A prenup, or prenuptial agreement, is a contract between two people that’s created before they get married. It typically lists each person’s assets, debts, and outlines how they’ll be handled should the couple divorce later on.
Prenups can be a valuable financial tool. While they may be difficult to think about while planning a wedding, prenups can provide comfort in knowing you’ll be protected.
Let’s dive in.
How does a prenuptial agreement work?
Prenuptial agreements take a look at each person and catalogs their assets, as well as any debts they may have. These assets typically include:
- Personal property of value (art, jewelry, furniture, appliances, cars, etc.)
- Cash and bank accounts
- Education and retirement funds
- Investments (like stocks and bonds)
- Real estate and other property
In addition to a list of assets, prenups include instructions for how they’ll be allocated if the marriage ends.
Some prenups allow for lifestyle clauses. These outline instructions for anything from what would happen in the case of infidelity, all the way to custody arrangements for children and pets.
Should I get a prenup?
According to The Harris Poll, just 3% of Americans who were married or engaged reported signing a prenup in 2010. But in 2022, that number jumped to 15%, with 42% of surveyed American adults in support of prenups and 35% stating they’re likely to sign one in the future.
There are several reasons you may want to consider signing a prenup. Below are a few.
You live in a state with community property laws
There are only nine states in the U.S. with community property laws — Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. These regulations stipulate that once a couple is married, all assets owned by either party become the property of both. This means, in the case of a divorce, couples are to split all assets evenly between them.
If you live in one of these states and want to avoid your property being split in such a way, signing a prenup might be a good option for you.
You’ve been previously married
If you’ve been married before and have assets from that time, you may want to ensure you don’t lose them in the case of another divorce. Additionally, if you have any children from a previous marriage, you can use a prenup to make sure anything you’ve set aside for them remains theirs.
You want to protect yourself from your spouse’s debts
If one person has significant student loans or other financial debts, signing a prenuptial agreement could help protect their spouse from becoming responsible for paying them back if they were to divorce.
Additionally, a prenup can specify how any debts incurred during the marriage will be handled post-divorce.
You want to help simplify a divorce
Divorce is often a difficult and emotional time for couples. Sometimes, having a plan in place for how finances, assets, and debts will be handled can relieve some of the pressure and help avoid arguments during the process.
How to get a prenup
While you can draft your own prenup contract, it may be a safer choice to utilize an estate planning lawyer to help you understand legal jargon and procedures.
Even if it’s not required in every state, each person may consider hiring their own lawyer. This will help ensure each party’s individual interests are equally represented. If you and your partner choose to write a prenup on your own, you’ll likely still want to bring copies to two separate lawyers to make sure proper procedure has been followed and the prenup is valid.
Once a prenup has been created, it can be challenging to change it later. By working with legal representation, you can feel more confident knowing you crossed your T’s and dotted your I’s throughout the process.
If you’re looking for an attorney to help create a prenup, reach out to your employer to see if they offer legal insurance, which can give you access to attorneys for a monthly premium.
How much does a prenup cost?
The cost of a prenup varies depending on where you live, attorney fees, and the specifics of your case (such as how complex or straightforward it is). In a simple case, an agreement could cost as little as $500, while in other cases, you could be looking at a few thousand dollars.
However, the average cost of a prenup nationally is $650.1
Prenups: The bottom line
A prenup is a contract between you and your future spouse that details each of your assets and how they’ll be handled in the incident of a divorce.
Prenups can help keep you and your assets protected, no matter what the future holds.