(Guest Post by Kevin McKee – a friend, and dope blogger)
In the next twelve months, I will be attending at least three weddings. Some of my closest friends and family members will be tying the knot soon, and I have a little premarital advice for all of them.
Get a prenup!
This advice may sound shallow, heartless, or just plain chauvinistic. And you’d be right if the prenup said, “In the event of a divorce, the husband keeps all shared marital assets and the wife assumes all shared marital debt. And she has to bake him cookies once a week. Forever.”
However, there are some very good reasons to get a prenuptial agreement that are helpful not only in the event of a divorce, but also in the event of the untimely and unfortunate death of a spouse.
In fact, I feel so strongly about the need for a prenup that I wrote a song about it:
Situations Where You Probably Need a Prenup
In describing these situations, I’m going to use generic names Jedediah for the husband (because I assume this is J Money’s real name) and Kim for the wife (because Kim and Jedediah sounds like a funny couple).
One Person Has Lots of Debt – Let’s pretend Jedediah racked up $50,000 in credit card debt before the marriage on expensive vacations, gourmet meals and a few ponies. Kim had no debt entering the marriage. The two marry, combine their finances, and start paying down the $50k of debt. A few years later, Jedediah unfortunately passes away. Depending on state law, Kim might be stuck paying off Jedidiah’s debt even after he’s gone because it became a shared marital debt. However, a prenup can clearly state who owns preexisting debt and ensure a widow isn’t saddled with her deceased husband’s debt. Even in divorce, Kim might get stuck with some of the debt; it just depends on state law and the judge if they don’t have a prenup.
At Least One Person Owns a Business – Let’s pretend Jedediah has a small business; maybe it’s a highly entertaining personal finance blog. Jedediah does most or all of the work on the business, but all money earned from that business is shared by him and his wife. Now let’s pretend these two get a divorce. Does Jedediah keep the small business, or does Kim have a right to some ownership? I honestly don’t know the answer; it all depends on state laws and who has the best attorney. These are the kinds of questions that can get really ugly when a couple splits and doesn’t have a prenup. I think it’s better to make this kind of decision while you are still on civil speaking terms with your significant other, as opposed to figuring it out during a nasty divorce.
At Least One Person Has a Valuable Family Heirloom – What if Kim has her great great great grandma’s dresser, which was valued at $30,000 on Antique Road Show? That’s not something she wants to fight Jedediah over in a divorce, and it’s probably something she wants to give to her sister or daughter or niece if she were to pass away unexpectedly. Without a prenup, Jedediah could sell that thing to the highest bidder and use that money to buy a trophy wife.
At Least One Person has a Significantly Large Net Worth – This one is pretty simple. If Jedediah has a bunch of money and/or assets, he might not want that stuff to become “shared marital assets”. Maybe he is happy to share his wealth as long as they are together. If that’s forever, great! If not and they do split up, Kim doesn’t get a piece of it. Again, I have no idea where the money would go in an actual divorce because I’m not a legal expert and I don’t know your state laws. And my guess is you won’t know where it will go either unless it is specified in a prenup.
Situations Where You Might Not Need a Prenup
As much as I love prenups, they aren’t for everyone. Here are a few reasons why you might not need a prenup before you get married.
- Neither person enters into the marriage with significant debt that should be separated to ensure a widow isn’t stuck paying off massive amounts of it.
- You have complete and absolute trust in your significant other to be fair and reasonable in the event of a divorce. (Tip: ask your friends if you think he or she would be fair and reasonable)
- Both the bride and groom are well aware of their state divorce laws and agree with all of them.
- You are on a very strict wedding budget, and you only have $700 to spend on either a prenup or an open bar at the reception. J Money might not show up if you don’t have an open bar! [TRUE FACT]
So unless you fall into one or more of these categories, then as I say in my music video, “You gotta get a prenup!”
If you’re single, would you get a prenup if you get married? If you’re married, do you have a prenup? Am I a jerk for even suggesting prenups? Why or why not?
EDITOR’S NOTE: To answer your question, the wifey & I didn’t even think of it. Like, I don’t think it was ever brought up or even considered at all – not sure if that’s good or bad? Though we both went into it w/ no debt and not a lot of assets either… I feel like you’d have to have HUGE balls to bring it up to your fiance like that – I don’t think I could do it even if I really wanted to ;)