As a prenuptial agreement lawyer, I am often asked questions like, “what’s typically included in a Prenup,” and “what to ask for in a prenuptial agreement.”
Every situation is different, but here are ten things you need to consider when creating a prenup:
- Separate Property
A Prenuptial Agreement can clearly lay out which assets will be separate and which will be marital. You can determine whether your salary and other earnings; restricted stock units; bonuses; bank accounts; brokerage accounts; retirement accounts; real estate; and other assets you have or will accumulate during your marriage will be separate or shared.
- Real Estate
If you own a house or a condo prior to your marriage, will your partner have an interest in it after you marry? This is an important issue. Do you want to be able to protect your separately owned property, or will your partner build equity in the property even though they may not be on the title?
- Retirement Accounts and Benefits
You can protect your retirement accounts and other benefits by keeping the accounts and benefits as separate property during your marriage. You can also keep these benefits as shared property. You can make that choice if you have a Prenuptial Agreement. Otherwise, all retirement accumulated during your marriage will be marital property.
- Alimony/Spousal Support
You can decide if you want to waive alimony, reserve rights to alimony, or carve-out specific circumstances when you can request it if you separate.
- Pet Custody
You can include provisions for what happens to your pets owned before you marry and any pets you adopt or buy during your marriage.
You can protect inherited property or other inherited assets so that even if you use inherited money to buy a jointly owned house, you will be able to recover it in the event of a separation.
- Business Interests
If you own a business before you marry; have an interest in a business; or start one during your marriage, your Prenup can include whether your business will be your separate property or if it will be a joint marital asset.
- Protection from Debts
You can protect yourself from the debts your partner accumulates so that you are not liable for payment of the debts.
- Protect Children from a Previous Relationship
If you have children from a previous relationship, you can protect certain assets for their future.
A Prenuptial Agreement can protect family heirlooms or sentimental items given to you and your partner as gifts. It can also protect your engagement and or wedding rings and other gifts given to you by a third person or gifts you and your partner give to each other.
If you plan to be married, it is a good idea to consider whether a Prenuptial Agreement might work for you and your partner and what each of you will want to ask for.
When deciding whether a Prenuptial Agreement is right for you, the most important thing to remember is: if you do not have a Prenuptial Agreement in Wahington, DC, anything you accumulate during your marriage other than inheritance and gifts will be marital property subject to division in the event you separate. This is why it is an essential discussion to have with your partner before you marry.
If you do not have time to complete a Prenup, you can always work on a Postnuptial Agreement to be signed after you marry and determine a resolution of the same types of issues.
The feedback from my clients is that even though they thought that the process would be difficult, it turned out to be very smooth and led to very productive conversations with their partners about many financial matters.
It is better to talk about financial issues before you marry so you are able to work out anything that you may not be on the same page about in advance. It enables you to start your marriage off in a positive direction.
The further from your wedding date that you work on and complete your Prenuptial Agreement, the better. This takes the pressure off when you and your future spouse want to focus on the food you will be serving and what you will be wearing rather than on a legal agreement.