Gettin’ hitched! Checklist

This “you’re about to get hitched omg omg omg” checklist is designed to get you in the mood for marriage (without sugar coating real situations that most couples find themselves in when it’s just too late).

To give you some insight into what you’re getting into with your marriage and a prenup, we’ve created an exercise for you and your partner to get deep ~ super deep ~ and set yourselves up for success before you even say “I do.”

These questions will help you build a strong foundation for your marriage by providing clarity on most of the toughest marital topics, gear you up for a bulletproof prenup, and create a strong strategy for getting through this marriage – confidently.

✨ Let’s roll! ✨

Assets & debts

Grab your Notes app (or pen & paper for us nostalgic types) and list everything that you own today. This includes property, assets, debt, accounts, etc. Now, one by one, go through and answer:

What will happen to premarital property (literally, property you owned before marriage in the event of separation or divorce?)

👉 Will premarital property remain as separate property in the event of divorce, meaning that it will not become joint marital property?

👉 What about student debt, credit card debt, or any other debts acquired before getting married? Will premarital debts remain separate debts in the event of divorce?

👉 How will we pay off any debt brought into the marriage? Separately? Or together?

👉 How will we pay off any debt that is accrued while married? If one of us goes back to school for a graduate degree or other training, will those loans be both of our obligations?

What’s yours is mine

“Marital” or “community” property (depends what state you are in!) is property that is considered joint property while married. This could be your primary residence, your cars, any accounts, etc.

👉 How do you want to handle income and assets that are acquired while married

👉 Will you split everything 50/50? Or are some purchases separate?

👉 If one party (party A) spends money on the other party (party B) to help with debt from education, vocational training, or any career training, does party B have to reimburse party A for their contribution towards party B’s success?  

👉 If you each contribute to the purchase of a primary residence, will you both share in contribution to the down payment equally? How will the equity be distributed in the event of separation or divorce? What about any investment properties?

What’s mine is mine

Regardless of if money is considered separate / non-marital or marital / community, there will be overlap in how money is thrown around in your marriage (that’s just how it goes down 99% of the time). Whether it’s the joint bills (like water, energy, groceries, etc.) or you just feel like covering the other financially during different seasons, it’s crucial to decide how money will be managed.

👉 Will you have joint bank accounts, separate, or both?

👉 If there is a joint account, does either spouse have to ask the other if they can purchase something? Or potentially empty out the account without asking? Will each of you contribute to the joint bank account to cover expenses? How much of your salaries will you contribute each pay period, month or year and will you contribute a set amount or a percentage of your income? Remember, if you do contribute to a joint bank account, that money will be considered marital property in a prenuptial agreement because it is in both of your names.

👉 Do either of you need to ask the other for permission to buy essentials like wine, Lulu, and pedicures?

👉 What’s the best way for each of you to bring up finances during your marriage? Face to face? Text? Fax? Maybe you have a set monthly “discuss it over dinner” meeting?

👉 If you don’t have a set time to chat about moolah, when is the best time to bring up finances? Whenever? Regularly? Never?

👉 What are your goals for saving? Do you have individual or team goals? If you have team goals, will you invest that money? Keep it in a savings account? Shove it under your mattress? (not recommended)

Inheritance

👉 Will future inheritance be considered separate property of the spouse who inherited it? Or will it be considered property of the marriage? 

👉 Will gifts from family members to either spouse be considered separate or joint marital / community property? What about gifts from family members that are given to both of you?

“We-tired af” goals

Spoiler alert: the older you get, the less energy you have (unless you are Jane Fonda, Kris Jenner, or Joe Biden). Retirement planning is a team and an individual sport, and the most successful players plan early and often. Not all of the below relates directly to your prenuptial agreement, but is important to consider regardless.

👉 What retirement goals do you want to set for yourselves? What about together?

👉 Who are the beneficiaries of your estate? Each other? The kids? Fluffy the dog?

👉 Can one “retire” early and the other work forever? If so, how will you address spending responsibilities?

👉 If there is separate property by retirement age, does it make sense for you to just combine everything by a certain date and make it marital property? You should read about a sunset clause…

Credit where credit is due

Give yourselves credit. Literally. It is necessary to buy a house, a car, or any type of loan or large purchase

👉 If you don’t have any credit, will your spouse take out the loans?

👉 Do you know each other’s credit scores? What are they?

👉 Do you plan to pledge your home (that is community property / marital property) as collateral on a business? Or use it towards a line of credit to fund a business? In the event of divorce, will the business owner reimburse the opposite party?

👉Back to our question about purchasing a home together. Will you share in the downpayment? How will the mortgage debt from your house be divided if you decide to split later on? 

👉If your prenuptial agreement states that one of you is able to remain in the home for a period of time after legal separation or divorce, who will pay for the mortgage and expenses?

(Wo)man’ing the homefront

Whether you’re both working from home, or traveling 128% percent of the year, someone will need to keep up with household duties.

👉 If one of you stops working (and receiving income) to stay home for childcare, how long makes sense?

👉 If one of you gives up their career (and stops receiving income) temporarily or permanently to stay home to care for children, how will the stay at home spouse be reimbursed in the event of separation or divorce? Will they be financially restored in some way?

👉 If one of you stops working (and receiving income) to remain at home with the kids, will the working spouse (income receiver) be responsible for paying 100% of the bills? What about spending money for the spouse working from home?

👉 If you choose to financially restore the stay at home party, how will that be done? Will lump sum payments be made to them upon divorce at set increments? Hint: A Lump Sum payment clause can specify that upon divorce, based on the length of marriage, certain lump sum payments can be made by one spouse to the other. 

Changing uniforms

Sometimes spouses trade in their tailored suits for noble causes – like becoming a teacher, caregiver, or even just to volunteer their time and give back to their community. Besides the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable to wear tailored suits for any reason whatsoever, it’s crucial to discuss how career changes will affect both of your wallets (and if it means downgrading from a Tory Burch to a Target coin purse).

👉 If one of you decides to change careers and make less money, do they need permission from the other spouse?

👉 If one spouse decides to make less money, how will it affect your bills?

👉 If one spouse changes careers to a riskier job (risky could refer to financially risky like starting a business, or a physically risky job like becoming a tightrope walker) will they be responsible for contributing to bills if they become disabled on the job?

Alimony / all-muh-money

Also known as Spousal or Spousal Maintenance. In some cases, when people get a divorce, a wealthier spouse has to pay the less wealthy spouse an amount of money for a certain period of time to be able to sustain their living situation.

👉 In the event of separation or divorce, do you believe in spousal support or alimony payments?

👉 If you don’t believe in spousal support, are you prepared to both waive your rights to alimony within your prenup?

👉 If one of you stays home for childcare, should they receive additional support from the wealthier spouse post-divorce to compensate for the fact that their career was put on hold and they now have a decreased earning potential?

Tax purposes

Not the sexiest topic to talk about, but it’s one that is overlooked (and will never go away) so here we go:

👉 Will you file jointly? Or separately?

👉 If one of you usually receives a tax return, but will no longer be eligible for an independent return if you file jointly, will the other spouse compensate the return? 

👉  What about previous tax debt that is bought into the marriage?

Higher (to a certain) degree

At some point in your careers, you might want to level up your resume and earn a higher degree.

👉 Will one of you plan to go back to school while married? 

👉 Will one of you support the other while going back to school?

👉 How will you deal with the financial adjustment if you go down to only one income?

👉 How will student loans be paid off?

Check points

Most things don’t last forever (unless it’s in your prenup). Check points (or reflection points within your marriage) might be helpful to pivot in places that may need improvement, upgrading, or archiving as “obsolete” – especially within the terms of your prenup.

👉 Should we check back in regarding our prenup once we have kids? Or draft the prenup as if we plan to have kids? (Remember, you cannot contract away the rights of children like child support or child custody, but you can keep other financial considerations in mind)

👉 Does it make sense for your prenup to expire, in the form of a sunset clause on the 5th, 10th, 15th, or 20th anniversary? Or something alike?

It’s just business

Marriage is about sharing your business – (perhaps not literally). If one of you owns a business prior to entering the marriage, or you plan on owning a business once married, you’ll want to understand the rights that your partner will have to that business.

👉 Does your prenup protect your family from debt, taxes, back taxes or payroll taxes that could overflow from your business into your personal life?

👉 Is your business protected from any financial hardships (debt, etc) that could come from your spouse?

👉 Will the equity of the business (or the value appreciation of your business) be separate or marital property? What about in the event of a divorce?

Death

The most romantic thing you can do once you say “I do!” besides raiding the taco trucks, smashing cake in your faces, and dancing until your dress has mopped up the entire dance floor, is to roll over to your estate planner and start mapping out your joint estate.

👉 Let’s say you get separated 30 years from now. You’ve been separated for quite some time, but haven’t legally filed for divorce yet. Does it make sense to have all of your property go to the other spouse? Or your children? Extended family?

👉 Who will inherit from you?

👉 Does life insurance make sense for you?

👉 Will either of you have immediate access to funds if either of you dies?

👉 Do you have any particular things (heirlooms, memories, pictures) that should go to someone in the event you pass?

👉 Do you want to include a death clause in your prenuptial agreement? In HelloPrenup, this clause states that should you or your future spouse die, the terms of your prenuptial agreement will remain in effect, as though you were alive. By adding this clause, you and your future spouse are waiving all rights to each other’s estate that you would normally have as a surviving spouse. 

You made it!

🥳 YOU’RE OFFICIALLY READY TO START YOUR PRENUP! 🥳

We know – it feels like you just went through an actual lifetime’s worth of marriages (for multiple people living multiple lives) and you may have a mild prenup hangover settling in right now.

BUT, this exercise was designed to give you insight into what too many couples seem to face (when it’s frankly too late and extremely real). By getting these tough questions out of the way, you have softened any burdens that could be bestowed upon you, created a clear roadmap for your marriage, and opened up the doors for some serious compromising (and those compromising muscles only get stronger when flexed regularly).

If it wasn’t painful, you may not have done it right (so feel free to hit the back button and start from the top to clarify any of the topics between you).

Congrats on your marriage – we know you got this!

XO, HP 🥂

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