Are you getting married tomorrow? It’s Halloween (and not a “traditional” day to get married). However, there are plenty of people who want to get married on Halloween and are preparing for their big day. The client who came to me has an elaborate wedding ceremony planned. Between the costumes, the venue and even the food, it sounds like it will be quite the party! Part of me was a little jealous that I wasn’t invited…
But even though the wedding has been in the works for months, with some pretty extravagant planning, the couple only thought of getting a prenup this week? While it sounds like a script for a television sitcom, it’s more common than you think. With such a time crunch before the wedding, the first question on my client’s’ mind is:
Do I Need A Prenup?
If you wonder if you need a prenup, you can do a quick Google search and find millions of answers. It’s especially trendy these days for writers to discuss “millennials” and how their prenups are different (here’s a hint: they’re not). Millennials may want to have a prenup for their pet, but so do a lot of other people. It is becoming more common that people view prenups as an “insurance policy” rather than an offensive document.
So do you need a prenup? As with most things in life, each person’s situation is different. Some general reasons you may want a prenup,
- You run your own business;
- You already own your own property;
- You have lots of debt;
- You have children from a prior relationship; and
- You have other things that you want to ensure stay your separate property.
There could be other reasons for a prenup as well, but those are a few common reasons I see in my clients.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Draft It?
Each state has its own statutes and rules regarding prenups. 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.
So back to our original question, you don’t need a lawyer to have a valid prenup. But each of you has to have an opportunity to consult with an attorney before you 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…
Can I Get It Done in 24 Hours?
This always reminds me of one of my grade school teachers:
Can you do it 24 hours before getting married? Sure.
Is it a good idea to do it 24 hours before getting married? Probably not.
Rather than try to rush through a sloppy prenup before your marriage, another option you may have is to use a postnup instead. But just like a prenup, it’s not something I recommend you download from a website. Because there are different issues with a postnup, an attorney can help guide you through that process to ensure that the postnup is valid.