You’re in a serious relationship that seems to be headed toward engagement over the holidays and marriage next year. It’s not too early to begin thinking about a prenuptial agreement. At least, it’s wise for you and your partner to be comfortable talking about finances. As one financial expert says, “If you can’t talk openly about money in your relationships, you probably won’t be able to talk openly about a lot of other important topics.”
Prenups are more common than ever among all generations. More people have come to understand that a prenup doesn’t portend the eventual end of your marriage. It’s simply an insurance policy. You hope a storm doesn’t wipe out your house, but you have insurance to make things a bit easier and less costly if it does.
A prenup does the same thing. You can detail what you would want to leave the marriage with (like the inheritance from your grandparents) and what you don’t want (like your spouse’s student loan debt). A prenup can help ensure that you and your spouse decide how your assets and debts will be divided – not a judge.
What kinds of items are covered?
Each couple’s prenup is unique to them. However, they typically cover:
- How assets and debts brought into the marriage by each spouse (and potentially assets acquired during the marriage) will be handled
- Whether one spouse will be required to pay spousal support to the other after divorce
- Whether either spouse can keep any inheritances or gifts they individually received during the marriage
If you have a share of a family business or a trust for which you’re the beneficiary, it’s wise to address those as well. Just about anything that is or could be of monetary value in the future can be addressed.
Avoid the possibility that your prenup will be thrown out
Some things cannot be included in a prenup. This includes “lifestyle” clauses that address adultery, weight gain or any behavior one spouse expects from the other. You also can’t address child support or custody matters.
You can’t have a prenup that substantially favors one spouse. Further, no one can be forced, pressured or tricked into signing a prenup. Both partners must do so willingly and with a full understanding of what they’re agreeing to. That’s why both parties need to have their own separate legal guidance to protect their interests.