Before getting married, it’s really important to look at your financial situation, together. You should pull credit history reports with your significant other, as well as looking at the last few months of bank statements, pay stubs, and W-2s. (just like applying for a mortgage!) You should also talk about spending and saving amounts. If you have spreadsheets, you should share them with each other. You should go through this full disclosure process before getting married, even if you don’t sign a pre-nup. If your assets or income are really disparate, you should consider signing a pre-nup.
If you’re young, have never married before, and have no kids, a pre-nup is a nice to have. You could end up getting divorced, but you could not. If you have been married before and perhaps your previous spouse died, you should strongly consider either signing a pre-nup or living together without legally getting married. This time around, it’s less a worry of ending up in divorce court and more a concern of your children and how they will have to deal with your new spouse’s financial situation after you have passed away.
The death of a parent is difficult enough to deal with without having to sort through an extra set of children wanting their “fair” share of the family money or a new spouse spending away yours and your previous spouse’s hard-earned savings.
With a pre-nup, you could live happily with your new spouse until you pass away, but since the accounts and the money are all separate, everything would tie up nice and cleanly after your passing, leaving your new spouse with their savings and making your passing less complicated for your children to work through the estate.
For me? For a first marriage? I think that I would be sure to go through the full disclosure process of a pre-nup before deciding to sign one or not. I agree that finances should be a single pot when you’re married, but I don’t necessarily believe that family inheritances should be single pot. Family inheritances should be between you and your sibling, not between you, your spouse, your sibling, and your sibling’s spouse. It’s possible with the level of assets that I’ve developed for my age, that a future spouse’s assets could be quite different from mine.
We’ll see, but I definitely know that if I want to get married a second time, I will either get a pre-nup or just live common-law with the person. A relative in my grandparents’ generation lived with a significant other after their first spouse passing away for many years – my sibling and I even called them both ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle’ and didn’t realize or care that they weren’t married until we were in our twenties!
Readers, how do you feel about pre-nups for a first marriage? What about a second marriage?