Most couples get engaged between November and February each year, and then the wedding planning takes over for another 6-9 months until the big day. During that time, a couple will formulate a guest list that will not only drive the choice of a venue, but also the costs of the caterer and floral arrangements. Selecting the right entertainment and photographers to capture the special day are also important, as are coordinating the proper attire and transportation of all the key members of the wedding party. Add on the costs of the invitations, rings, gratuities to all the service providers, and a honeymoon, and without much imagination it is easy to see why the average U.S. wedding costs at least $25,000.
Now, for a fraction of that cost, would it not seem wise to invest in a prenuptial agreement in case you wind up in the 50% bracket that do not wait until death to part? Even if you currently do not have anything, surely you expect to buy a house together and/or accumulate some savings? What if you inherit money later on or develop intellectual property rights that might actually be worth something? What is the downside to having a discussion about what you think should be marital versus what should be kept separate? And do you really want to leave the possibility of alimony open-ended when you can easily minimize the risk of that by setting caps on the amount and duration if a complete waiver is not an option?
We all have to sign contracts every day with providers that lay out what happens in the event one party does not fulfill his/her end of the bargain or becomes dissatisfied. Think about it– your phone is under contract, your landlord or mortgage lender have made you sign an agreement, and if you have a car payment or own a credit card, then for sure those lenders also have agreements with you. So, why should it be any different with your soon to be spouse? I realize you are not in love with any of the others, but it precisely your spouse that has the greatest potential of hurting you– not just emotionally but financially.
When you co-habitate, share bank accounts, and decide to marry someone, you take on legal obligations and responsibilities. You need to plan for the worst, and then hope for the best as you walk down that aisle dreaming of your happily-ever-after.
Here’s a link to a short podcast on cohabitation agreements and prenups/postnups: