I’m often asked by engaged individuals whether a prenup is necessary for them – and if so, how to handle the delicate conversation with one’s future spouse.
If you’re about to be married, should you insist that your partner sign a prenup? My perspective: It depends.
If you’re getting married for the first time and either you or your spouse have significant assets or perhaps even debts, it can be a good idea plan how to handle these if the marriage doesn’t work out. Don’t think of a prenup as a negative. Entering married life with these decisions made calmly and fairly beforehand may take some pressure off your relationship, so you can focus on enjoying your life together.
A prenup is more important if you have children from previous relationships. Again, it’s not about anticipating the failure of your marriage. The context of a prenuptial agreement should be: How to do we protect and provide for our extended families?
- A prenup can ensure that your estate plan will not be challenged by your surviving spouse
- A prenup can ensure that property will pass to your children from a prior relationship (without one, your entire estate could pass to your new spouse)
- A prenup lets one spouse waive rights to the other spouse’s life insurance or retirement benefits – so that each of you can make your respective children the beneficiaries
However, if you don’t have children from previous relationships, a prenup is much less important – and probably should not be a deal-breaker. After all, aside from the powerful romantic and emotional reasons you get married, you are probably also getting married in part to reap the financial benefits of the married state – i.e., to take advantage of the economies of scale and to build wealth together. A prenup may end up being limiting and counterproductive.