When planning for a marriage, couples may not consider the possibility of divorce. However, many financial experts recommend that everyone get a prenup in case a divorce occurs. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the marriage rate is 16.6 out of every 1,000 women aged 15 or older. Simultaneously, the national divorce rate is 7.7, which is a significant percentage in comparison. Therefore, considering a prenup might help you avoid the financial devastation that comes with divorce. But how much does a prenup cost? The cost of a prenuptial agreement can vary by state, as each state typically has unique laws. Here’s a breakdown of the cost you can expect during the prenuptial agreement process. If a prenup seems like something you should pursue, consider matching with a trusted financial advisor.
Prenup, Definition and Cost
A prenup, or prenuptial agreement, is a contract between prospective spouses. Prenups typically list both spouses’ assets and dictate what should be done if either spouse dies or in the case of a divorce. Prenups are legally binding agreements, and each state has different rules that dictate what prenups should include.
Prenups can range in cost based on several factors. For most couples, the cost will range from $1,000 up to $10,000 for more complicated situations. While there are templates and information available online, it’s wise to use a private attorney to ensure that the agreement is valid and legally binding.
Factors that determine the cost of a prenup can be the city and state you reside in, how many assets and debts each individual has, the reputation and practice of the attorney you choose and any prolonged negotiations. The couple’s assets and liabilities play a factor in how long it will take an attorney to draw up an agreement, so any couples with complex assets may be billed more for the service.
Another consideration: For one or both parties in a divorce, a prenup’s cost could end up being less than the cost of leaving the distribution of assets to a judge’s interpretation of a state’s equitable distribution laws.
Why a Prenup Is Useful
Some people think a prenup is only for extremely wealthy people or for people who think divorce is in their future. However, a prenup can be useful in several situations. For example, suppose one or both of the individuals has kids from a previous marriage. In that case, a prenup can help them sort out the details of how they want to divide their assets should one individual die prematurely or if the couple gets divorced. The same is true if one or both individuals receive an inheritance before the marriage that they want to protect.
Another example is if one or both prospective spouses have assets before the marriage or have significant debt. They may want to protect the other from inheriting their debt or protect their assets by keeping them legally separate. Any assets or debt that a couple accumulates during their marriage is community property or joint marital property in most states.
Although it’s wise for most couples to get a prenup, they’re not right for everyone. If a couple decides not to sign a prenup, they may still want to document all their accounts as they stand before the marriage. That way, they’ll know exactly what their assets are should they need proof in the future.
How and When to Talk About a Prenup
Couples should discuss a prenup long before their wedding date. Getting a prenup is a multi-step process, so it is wise for a couple to discuss if and how they will get a prenup at least 30 days before their wedding.
The first step to getting a prenup is to do your research. You should understand what goes into a prenup, what you want to cover and learn more about attorneys that can execute your prenup. Most states require that after a prenup is presented to an individual, they must take at least seven days to read it and seek legal counsel. Therefore, many couples choose to have their prenups written months before their wedding.
Additionally, prenups are not legally binding until the individuals get married. Each state has unique prenuptial agreement laws, so be sure to investigate what the parameters are where you live.
So, how much does a prenup cost? The answer is it depends. Therefore, it’s a good idea for couple considering marriage to research prenuptial agreements and the cost. Many people choose to get prenups to protect their future spouse or to protect their assets, families, and more. Because each prenup is different, prenups vary in cost. If you have additional questions, you may want to consult with a financial advisor and an attorney who can point you in the right direction.
Financial Tips for Couples
A financial advisor can help you manage investments both individually and as a couple. Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors to help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
If you and your partner are considering buying a residence, using a free calculator to see how much house you can afford can keep you from making a costly mistake.
Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Cecilie_Arcurs, ©iStock.com/gorodenkoff, ©iStock.com/zimmytws