When parents want to have a “prenup talk” with their adult kids

Whether you have a family business, some property jointly owned with your adult child or your adult child is simply going to be the beneficiary of family assets someday, you’re likely concerned as a parent about getting a solid prenuptial agreement in place, if and when your adult child gets married.

It may hearten you to learn that over 40% of Gen Z couples report having prenups. This is likely due in part to the considerable amount of overall wealth being passed down to younger generations these days.

As a parent, you can help to ensure that your family assets remain in the family should your child’s marriage end in divorce. However, it’s crucial to be smart about persuading your child (and their spouse-to-be) to get a prenup. If you get involved in the drafting of the agreement or put pressure on your future in-law, you could end up invalidating it.

Don’t make it personal

It’s best to start talking about prenups before your child is in a serious relationship. That way, it doesn’t seem like you don’t trust their partner or think their marriage will last. You can present it as something that your family does to protect your assets.

Let them know what’s at stake

If you’ve never discussed family assets with your child, this is the time to do it. They need to know what’s at stake. They may not be thinking beyond their minimal possessions, which may be outweighed by their student loan and other debt. You can’t be part of the drafting of the document, but you need to let your child know what they need to protect.

Don’t threaten or pressure

When the time comes, if your child refuses to get a prenup, there are steps you can take to “divorce proof” joint assets and future inheritances. Disinheriting your child isn’t necessary and is likely to cause a family rift. You also definitely don’t want to pressure (or let your child pressure) a future spouse. That includes waiting until the wedding invitations are sent out to bring up a prenup. This can cause it to be thrown out by a court in the event of divorce.

A prenup needs to be fair to both parties, and both should have their own legal representation to protect their interests. No one but the spouses and their representatives (and that includes parents) should be involved in the writing of the agreement. If you have questions or concerns, you may want to get some legal guidance of your own.