Joint Accounts

Is It Worth Asking for a Prenup If I’m Not Rich?

Think of this as practice for all the tough conversations that marriage entails

Kristin Wong
Published in
5 min readMay 20, 2019

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Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Dear Joint Accounts,

I recently got engaged, and while I’m not super rich, I have enough of a nest egg that I want to protect it. A few of my family members have encouraged me to get a prenup or at least talk to my fiance about it. There’s a good chance I’ll receive a small inheritance, too, so I think my family wants to make sure that money is safe. I’m not sure how the inheritance will play out with our joint finances when my fiance and I get married.

I don’t think my fiance will take it well if I ask for a prenup, either. My biggest fear is that she’ll be so offended she won’t want to get married at all. How much money do I need to have to start thinking about a prenup? Does it make sense if my net worth isn’t huge? And how do I bring this up to my fiance without her getting upset?

— Pondering a Prenup

FFirst, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way. The word “prenup” tends to send people into a frenzy, and the more you can separate myth from fact, the better the conversation will go. Much of what people know about prenups comes from celebrity culture — sensational headlines about messy divorces and fights over money. Often, if someone asks for a prenup, people assume it means they’re either greedy, uncommitted, or both.

But in the real world, prenuptial agreements are pretty unexciting. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t just for super wealthy people; even if your own assets don’t amount to much, prenups are useful. And what most people don’t know is that every married couple already has a prenup, whether they realize it or not.

“My attorney explains it like this: People who don’t create their own prenuptial agreement still have a version of one,” says Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial Takes On Investing. “It’s just the default laws of your state.” If you don’t specify otherwise, existing laws will determine what happens to your finances in case of divorce — crafting your own prenup just gives you a say in the matter.

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Kristin Wong
Forge
Writer for

Kristin Wong has written for the New York Times, The Cut, Catapult, The Atlantic and ELLE.