This is the complete prenuptial agreement checklist.
It has every question that you and your significant other need to consider.
You can download a free copy of the prenuptial agreement checklist below.
Let’s dig in.
Table of Contents
- How To Split Premarital Debts and Assets
- What To Do With Marital Property
- How To Manage Assets and Income
- How To Handle Credit and Debt
- What Is Your Working Agreement
- Who Pays Alimony and How Much
- Can You Lose Gifts From Your Family
- How Should You Pay Taxes
- What Will You Do If You Go Back To School
- How Long Your Agreement Should Last
- What If You Start A Business One Day
- What If There Is Fault For Your Separation
- What Happens In The Event Of Death Or Disability
Free Prenuptial Agreement Checklist
Download a free prenuptial agreement checklist that you can sit down with your partner to discuss. Fill out the form below.
Prenuptial Agreement Checklist
Your prenup will protect BOTH of you.
It doesn’t mean that you plan on divorcing.
It doesn’t mean you don’t trust each other.
It’s a guideline for how to handle unexpected events down the road.
These events can be things like:
- creditors trying to take money from you if your spouse dies
- you being responsible for 50% of debts you didn’t know about
- who will be the beneficiaries of your estates
- how to handle large money decisions
- how much will you pay or receive in alimony due to separation
- how to handle inheritances
- who will work or stay at home
Related: Divorce Statistics
How To Split Premarital Debts and Assets
Your prenuptial agreement checklist covers the assets and debts you each currently have.
Protecting premarital assets is what people normally think of for a prenuptial agreement.
But a prenup will also separate premarital debts too.
A prenup agreement will protect one spouse from the other’s debts like:
- student loans
- medical bills
- credit cards
In the event of a death or a separation, a prenup will protect the other spouse from these debts.
Let’s say that the husband has $150,000 in medical debts.
Of course, during the marriage, the wife will be helping him pay that off.
But if he dies, creditors can come after her for those debts.
Or, if they separate in 10 years, she could be responsible for 50% of the remaining balance.
Let’s talk about the questions you want to discuss for this section of the prenuptial agreement checklist.
- How will you handle premarital assets and debts in the event of a divorce?
- Will the assets and debts remain separate property? Will go back to the person who accumulated them before the marriage?
- Will your separate property be inter-mingled with your marital property? What’s your plan to keep it separate?
- What if one spouse’s pre-marital property gets used to pay off the other person’s pre-marital debts? (i.e., student loans) Will the paying spouse need to get reimbursed or is it a gift?
- What if you use one spouse’s premarital property (i.e., savings) to buy a home you’ll own together? Will the paying spouse need to get reimbursed or is it a gift?
Things to think about for the finance part of your prenuptial agreement checklist.
If the marital property gets used to fund separate property, the separate property is not marital.
Let’s look at some examples:
- Money from a joint banking account gets used for a repair or bill on a separate rental property.
- One spouse’s inheritance gets transferred to a joint account.
- Money gifted from your parents getting used to pay down your marital home’s mortgage.
Separate property usually goes to the spouse who originally owned it.
But, separate property can be divided if:
- The other spouse contributed to getting the property, improving it, or growing it; or
- The other spouse’s share of the marital property is not enough to meet that spouse’s needs.
The next section of our prenuptial agreement checklist is what you are doing with marital property.
What To Do With Marital Property
Now you know how to keep property separate.
But what about your marital property?
- How will you handle income and assets? Will the management and upkeep be joint? Will you split them 50/50?
This may not feel like a big deal at this point in your life.
Try to think long-term.
Some examples of why you would need or want this are:
- One spouse outearns the other spouse. The spouses split the bills 50/50. But the higher earner invests heavily into their 401k for retirement. At the time of separation, one spouse has $150,000 while the other has $35,000.
- One spouse spends their discretionary money making DIY improvements to the home. This improves the home’s value by $100,000. The other spouse didn’t do or spend anything.
- One spouse inherits $500,000 and two houses from their parents.
These examples may not apply to you.
But think of what scenarios could possibly happen to you and plan ahead.
How To Manage Assets and Income
You and your spouse most likely have different money styles.
Finances are one of the most common reasons for divorce.
Figuring out how to handle finances can reduce the chances of them leading to separation.
One spouse may feel like saving and investing for retirement is the biggest priority.
The other may feel like vacations and experiences are the biggest priority.
You can do both and work together to meet both goals.
This is part of your prenuptial agreement checklist.
- Who will make the major financial decisions?
- Who will manage the finances? (i.e., bank accounts, retirement, savings, budget) Will one person do this or will it be a joint effort?
- Who decides whether you can, or should, make large purchases? (i.e., a new TV, a PS5, a new car, a vacation)
- At what price do you guys need to consult the other to buy something? (i.e., if someone wants to spend $250+, it needs to be a joint decision)
- How will the bills get split? Who handles the bills and which ones?
- Will you have joint or separate bank accounts?
- What are your long-term financial goals? How will each of you contribute to those goals?
- What are your retirement goals and what do contributions look like?
- Who makes decisions for the pre-marital debts and assets?
- If one of you owes child support to another party, how will those payments get made? (i.e., side hustles, joint funds, separate funds)
- How do you plan on funding your children’s college expenses?
Related: Grounds for Full Custody of Child
How To Handle Credit and Debt
Have you seen each other’s credit reports?
Do you know what debts each other has?
Do you know each other’s credit scores?
It does seem dumb to ask these things.
You’re not getting married because of their credit scores.
But it’s still important.
One spouse may have a ton of monthly debts they owe.
Or they may have a credit score that’s destroyed.
When you two go to get a house, rent an apartment, buy a car, or anything, this affects your ability to do so.
- Does either of you have bad credit? Will you and your spouse jointly sign on new credit obligations?
- Consider joint credit issues. (i.e., pledging your home as collateral on business. Or using a home equity line of credit to fund a business or hold it over in an economic downturn.)
- Is it likely that either of you might over-borrow? Or refuse to borrow no matter how much sense it makes to the other person?
- Are back taxes owed? If so, how will they get paid? Jointly, individually, and from which checkbook?
Related: Reasons a Judge Will Change Custody
What Is Your Working Agreement
We’ve seen marriages crumble because of this.
One spouse has goals to be a stay-at-home parent.
The other expects them to work to financially contribute.
This part of the prenuptial agreement checklist is about how to handle work.
- Will you move closer to the family after having children?
- Will both of you work after having kids? Will one of you stay home? How long will you stay home?
- What kinds of jobs and income will you have?
- Will either of you pursue higher education that you already have?
- Do you expect a career change at any point? What needs to happen for that to take place?
- How will you decide if one spouse can take a lower-paying job? (i.e., for less travel, for less stress, etc.)
- How will you decide on relocations? Whose career will the other person follow? (i.e., One spouse is able to move and drastically increase their income. Do you follow that career or stay in place forever?)
- How would you handle one spouse getting transferred? (i.e., Would you quit? Would you live separately for a time?)
Who Pays Alimony and How Much
Everyone’s favorite topic.
Who pays alimony and how much?
It’s not a requirement that you all discuss this now.
But it can reduce arguments in the event of a separation.
- Will there be any limitations on the amount, terms, and duration of support in the event of a divorce?
- Do you both expect to work and contribute to the household?
- Do you want to make agreements about alimony that are different than what your state law allows?
- Would there be a circumstance that would lead to one partner not working? (i.e., a health problem, the birth of a child, going back to school)
Can You Lose Gifts From Your Family
A lot of family members will provide gifts.
These gifts could be:
- a $15,000 / year gift from an older relative
- parents making a down payment on your house
- parents buying you a car that you later sell
Figuring out how to handle this helps you avoid conflict later.
- Would the gift from the family be marital? Or the property of the spouse whose family gave the money?
- If it’s a loan, who would be responsible for repaying it? How formal will you be with the documentation if it is a loan?
How Should You Pay Taxes
Taxes are normally something we just naturally acclimate into.
Most of us don’t give them much thought at all, honestly.
Here are some tax-related questions to consider.
- Will you file separate taxes or joint taxes?
- Does one spouse have questionable tax deductions?
- Does one spouse defer taxes? What are the plans to pay those at a later date?
- Are there any back taxes that are owed by a spouse?
- What will you do with your refunds? Will the refund be split 50/50?
What Will You Do If You Go Back To School
Spouses go back to school for a bachelor’s degree, a trade skill, or a master’s degree.
If this happens, the working spouse has to support the family while the other is in school.
This part of the prenuptial agreement checklist addresses the expectations surround that.
- Will one of you be attending college, graduate school, or trade school?
- Will one of you have to support the other while he or she is in school?
- How will you deal with this sacrifice made by one person if the marriage doesn’t work out?
- How will student loans be repaid?
- Would the expectations about income and earnings change if one person wants to go back to school after you’ve been married several years?
Related: How Long Does A Divorce Take
How Long Your Agreement Should Last
Life changes and it’s difficult to foresee everything that will happen.
Your prenuptial agreement can have an expiration date on it.
Even if you don’t want it to expire, you can have it scheduled to get renegotiated.
- Does having children affect how your prenuptial agreement should work?
- Would you want the agreement to be renegotiated at your 10, 20, 30 year anniversaries?
- If you separate, does it matter who chooses to end the marriage? Does it matter why?
- Would you want the agreement to get renegotiated at a specific time? (i.e., 5 years after the marriage or after the birth of the first child)
Related: Custody Battle For Fathers
What If You Start A Business One Day
Some spouses start businesses separately.
Some spouses start them together.
Here are some questions to ask about business in your prenuptial agreement checklist.
- How will you handle business debts and taxes? (i.e., back taxes, business loans, payroll taxes, etc.)
- How will you determine your personal income from the business? (i.e., you want consistent income reports from the business)
- Do you want a forensic account to audit the business in the event of separation?
- How much money will get distributed to your household? And how much of your profits will get reinvested?
- What happens if a pre-marital business starts a business during the marriage?
- What if one or the other of you works for the other person in a pre-marital business?
Related: Last Will and Testament
What If There Is Fault For Your Separation
This section is discussing the grounds for divorce.
It means who committed an action that triggers the reason for divorce.
These can include but are not limited to, affairs, drug additions, abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc.
Some states do not allow fault-based divorces while the rest do.
- What will you all do in the event of a grounds for divorce?
- Would this make a difference in your property settlement or alimony?
Related: How to Leave Your Husband
What Happens In The Event Of Death Or Disability
Estate planning is often an after-thought for most couples.
You should create a will after major life events.
These major life events can be things like:
- having children or adoption
- buying a house
- buying rentals
- opening retirement accounts
Your will feels insignificant when you’re young.
But some states will split up your assets per the intestacy laws.
That doesn’t mean your spouse will get everything.
And if both of you die, but your child survives, your child will go into the foster care system.
It doesn’t matter if you have capable and willing family members who want to care for them.
So, here are some of the questions you should ask related to death and disability.
- Who would take care of your children if you die?
- Who would inherit the property you currently have?
- Who would act as your executor?
- Do you have life insurance in the event of a death?
- Who is the beneficiary of your retirement plans?
- Does your prenup end upon the death of a spouse?
- Can either spouse maintain the marital home if one of you dies?
- What happens if one spouse becomes incapacitated or disabled?
- How would disability change finances? How would you adjust?
- Do you need disability insurance or long-term care insurance?
- Does your spouse have a power of attorney?
- Who can make decisions for you in the event that you become incapacitated?
Related: Temporary Guardianship Without Court
How To Get Your Prenup
If you want the best attorneys to create your prenup, fill out the form below.
We have the experience needed to ensure that your rights are protected.
This means that you don’t wrongfully lose custody of your children.
We also make sure that your separation is equitable and fair.
This means you don’t get raked over the coals financially.
We also know how to set it up so you are protected in the event of a death.
After you fill out the form below, we will set up your free consultation.