I have a good amount of assets. I am thinking of getting married. Do I need a prenup? How do I tell her?

Jack Turnbull ‏@sinwire: I have a good amount of assets. I am thinking of getting married. Do I need a prenup? How do I tell her?

ANSWER:

This is a tough tough issue.

Signing a prenuptial agreement seems to fly in the face of “til death do us part” and so many people and many religions find prenuptial agreements morally repugnant. I do not have a prenuptial agreement with Claudia. I hope we stay together forever. I also trust if she abandons me for any reason then what we work out will be fair for everyone.

But not every situation is the same.

If you have significant assets and your wife doesn’t what I would do is this:

A) consult a financial advisor. He’s helped 100s of couples through this, so he will have ideas on what best to say. Ditto if you see a lawyer or even a therapist about this issue. Often when I don’t know how to deal with something, I ask someone who has helped 100s deal with it and they have good experience about what works and what doesn’t.

B) You can say, “I’ve worked hard for these assets and while I infinitely trust you, anything can happen and my financial advisor has advised me to protect these assets. It has nothing to do with how I feel about you. I just want to protect everything that has happened until the moment I met you.”

C) And then do something as fair as possible. Where if she is married to you, she gets to benefit and be happy. Make sure you give a little when you take a little. And include a twilight clause that says after a certain number of years the prenup goes away.

D) Don’t make it fancy. Don’t put blame in there (“if you cheat on me then I get this. If i cheat on you then you get this. If you gain 20 lbs, I get this. If you don’t have sex with me 10 times a month I get this, etc) Make it simple. “All assets before this date are mine in the event of a divorce.” Very simple and fair to both sides. The simpler the better.

When you are fair and honest, then everything goes ok. You’ve earned what you’ve earned. That’s fair. But if you put your emotional baggage in the deal, then you are doomed to have that emotional baggage come to life.

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