Prenuptial Agreements: Not Just for Billionaires

Just one day after his company’s initial public offering, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg married his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan. Zuckerberg’s surprise nuptials, and contrasting net worth in the arena of $14 billion, has sparked renewed attention for the value of pre-nuptial agreements. Donald Trump even weighed in, with perhaps no small amount of personal experience, noting: “They get married, and then for some reason over the next couple of years they get divorced and then she sues him for $10 billion and she hits the jackpot … she would get a big chunk of what he has.”

Trump’s “advice,” as entertaining as it may be, may not be that far off, and not just with regards to Zuckerberg. You don’t have to be a billionaire to need a prenuptial agreement before you tie the knot. In recent decades, people have increasingly waited until later in life to marry for the first time. Instead they have focused on attaining education and employment at a time in their lives when their parents were marrying (for the first time) with few personal assets. Many people now enter their first marriage in their late twenties and early thirties with an established career, retirement savings, and personal or real property. Moreover, many people today are now entering into their second, and yes, (speaking of Trump), their third marriage.

While prenuptial agreements are often dubbed an ‘unromantic’ way to begin a marriage, a properly drafted agreement can protect parties from much more than a complicated divorce. And let’s face it, the anticipation of divorce is the only reason for seeking a prenup, you should probably reconsider getting married.
Prenuptial agreements can protect the inheritance rights of children and grandchildren from previous marriages, and even set some basic ground rules for the marriage. That being said, prenuptial agreements are not a necessary measure for every marriage. So how do you know if you need a prenup?
You should consider a prenuptial agreement if:

  • You or your partner have children from a previous marriage
  • You or your partner have a lot of debt
  • One of you has significantly more money than the other party
  • Either of you own a business, or if you are a partner in a business
  • Either of you owns significant assets or property
  • Either of you have been previously married
  • One of you intends to support the other through college or professional school

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