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Should you put an expiration date in your prenup?

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2023 | Prenuptial Agreements

If you’re considering drawing up a prenuptial agreement or your spouse-to-be wants to get one, it’s wise to learn more about them and what they can do to protect both of you in case the marriage doesn’t last until death do you part. Many people think of a prenup as an insurance policy. They hope they never have to use it, but it’s good to know it’s there if the unexpected happens.

One question that people often have about prenups is whether they expire. They don’t – unless you include a “sunset provision.” The provision can apply to the entire agreement or just specific parts of it.

Why have a sunset provision?

These provisions typically “sunset” when the marriage hits the 10-year mark (or sometimes even after more time). Often, those planning to marry include a sunset provision because they have a lot of wealth at stake and they don’t want to risk losing it – especially in a community property state like California – if the marriage only lasts a few years or even less. 

Although sunset provisions aren’t the norm, it’s worth considering that if you don’t have one, you’ll likely be bound by the terms of your prenup if you divorce regardless of how irrelevant they may be to your circumstances. That’s why it’s a good idea to revisit your prenup as things change in your life – much like you would your estate plan.

You can replace a prenup with a postnup

While you can’t revise a prenup once you’re married, you can draw up a postnuptial agreement, or postnup. That essentially serves the same purpose. If your spouse starts a business and becomes more successful than you ever imagined or you decide to leave the workforce to be a stay-at-home parent, for example, a postnup can be valuable. A postnup can also be modified as long as you both agree to the modifications.

Like any agreement, a prenup should never be completely forgotten – whether you include a sunset provision or not. With sound legal guidance, however, you can craft an agreement that will remain relevant to your lives and your wishes long after you’re married.