Spring wedding season is upon us. As the weather slowly warms up, that means reviewing prenups with my clients. For some people, the process is quick and easy. For others? It can take a longer time (my current record is taking more than 18 months to finalize negotiations on a prenup – clearly no spring wedding for that couple!).
Almost all of my clients have heard of prenups before. However, their understandings of how they work can be all over the place. I think sometimes we see dramatic prenup scenes in movies or on tv. People can fall into two camps:
- I’ll sign it on my way to the wedding ceremony (Please don’t do this…)
- The prenup will take some time to negotiate and sign in advance of the wedding (They don’t all take 18 months…)
Those in the first camp may have seen too much on-screen drama. The spring wedding is on March 17 (with a St. Patrick’s Day theme). It’s the morning of and everyone’s trying to find the groom to sign the prenup. At the last minute, a green pen (of course) is found and the groom signs in green before walking into the church. In reality, this is a terrible idea and is most likely not a valid prenup.
How Do We Draft A Prenup?
Instead of some unnecessary drama, each state has its own statutes and rules regarding prenups for you to follow. For example, in Minnesota, a valid prenup must be
- In writing;
- Executed by parties of legal age;
- Executed after each person has an opportunity to consult with an attorney of their choice;
- Signed before the marriage (if it was after, it would be a postnup…);
- Witnessed by 2 people; and
- Accompanied by full and fair disclosure of earnings of both parties.
Chances are you can write up a document that meets these requirements, but then you also need to make sure you get the process correct.
Can I Do It Myself?
You don’t need a lawyer to have a valid prenup. But each of the spouses has to have an opportunity to consult with an attorney before they sign the prenup. Based on my experience, that attorney review is the most important part of the process. The attorney will often see issues that you two may not have considered. Perhaps you are copying someone else’s form. Or you downloaded a basic template from a website, but you’re using the wrong form and you don’t know it.
The simple answer is that you don’t need a lawyer to create a valid prenup. But there are too many different steps in the process where you could innocently get tripped up. So spending some time consulting with a lawyer could be time well-spent. If that prenup ends up being invalid, you could find yourself in a precarious position…
If you’re getting married this summer, or if you’re already married and are considering a postnup, call my office to set up a Legal Strategy Session and we can review the best options for you – (877) AMAYERS.