Will I need a prenup lawyer?
Hiring a prenup lawyer to help you write and negotiate your prenuptial agreement can protect your interests and ensure your prenup holds up in court. Some states even require it.
Risks with do-it-yourself forms
You can find DIY prenuptial agreements online, and they can be a good place to start. But even if you and your spouse-to-be agree on all the terms, it may not be a good idea to completely forgo legal advice.
For one thing, there are several terms you can’t include in a prenuptial agreement. State laws regulate this and, although they tend to be similar, the specifics can vary. You can research this yourself, but a prenup lawyer can help make sure you don’t miss anything.
Also, some states require at least one lawyer be involved. A few even require each person have a lawyer to ensure the agreement is fair to you both. If your state is one of these, your prenup will only be valid if you’ve had appropriate legal representation.
Even in states that don’t require using a prenup lawyer, the judge may look less favorably on an agreement made without one. He or she may look at it more closely and may find some or all of it invalid.
Costs for a prenup lawyer
Prenup costs will vary based on factors specific to your case:
- How many assets you have
- How complicated your holdings are
- How complicated your desired distributions are
- How well the two of you agree on the terms of the agreement
The more complicated your holdings, or the more negotiating you need to do, the longer it’s likely to take. And, of course, the more it will cost.
Attorney fees also vary by location and the lawyer’s experience. In general, expect to pay between $800 to $2500 for a solid prenup. Many lawyers offer a free consultation. Taking advantage of this lets you do 2 things:
- Talk with the lawyer to decide if they are someone you feel comfortable working with.
- Get a better estimate of your total prenup costs, based on the information you give the lawyer.
Even at the higher end, the cost can be worth it to know that your prenup is likely to hold up in court.
Save money by writing it yourself and having a lawyer review it
If you’re worried about the prenup cost and would prefer to write it yourself, you can start with a DIY form. Then have each of your lawyers review it. This should take much less of the lawyers’ time and cost less.
If both lawyers agree it looks fair you can sign it with confidence. If one or both finds problems, you can negotiate terms.
How much money this option may save will depend on how much revision the lawyer(s) need to do to your agreement. Even if you don’t write the prenup yourself, make sure you have a solid idea of what you want in it before hiring a lawyer. That will save some time, which will save you money.
Unless your state requires legal representation, it’s up to you whether or not to hire a prenup lawyer. Just remember that using a lawyer helps ensure the deal is fair and legally enforceable.