While the prospect of getting married can be an exciting time for many people, it can also cause nerves, fear, and stress if you are worried about how to protect your assets in marriage. While no one wants to imagine their marriage ending in divorce, it is important that you go into marriage prepared so that you are protected if the worst happens, as you will want to be able to retain as much of your premarital assets as possible in the event of a divorce. Fortunately, there are simple steps that you can take going into your marriage that can help to protect you and your spouse down-the-road should you dissolve your marriage. Here are just a few of the steps that you can start with.
Maintain Your Separate Accounts
One of the most important things that you can do going into your marriage to protect your assets is to keep your premarital funds separate from your marital funds. Instead of combining existing accounts after you are married, open new joint accounts once you are married, and keep your existing accounts separate with your premarital funds in it. You should also place money in this account that you receive during the marriage as inheritance or as a non-marital gift. Why is it important to keep your premarital funds separated from your joint accounts? The fact is that once you use an account to pay for marital expenses or to deposit your paycheck into, the entire account becomes marital regardless of the balance you had before the marriage. This makes it critical that you stay organized and keep your marital and premarital funds separated so that they are protected in the event of divorce.
Keep Your Premarital Property Separate
Similarly, it is critical that you keep any assets and property that you acquired before the marriage– such as a car or a house– separate. Oftentimes, people do not see the harm in adding their spouse to a deed once they get married. This often seems like the logical solution as it will ensure that their spouse gets to keep the property if they die. However, this can become a problem should you get divorced down-the-road, as the courts will presume that you have chosen to give half of the value of the property to your spouse, and they will then likely be entitled to half regardless of whether you owned it before the marriage. Keeping any premarital property separate after getting married is an easy way to protect it in case of divorce.
Use Non-Marital Funds to Maintain Non-Marital Property
However, in some cases, keeping your premarital property in your name may not be enough, as things can become murky if you begin paying for maintaining that property with your marital finances. If you begin using your joint finances to pay for the mortgage, or to renovate the property, then the court may try to decide how much of the value of the house is marital property based on the amount of joint funds that were put into maintaining it. To help ensure that you are able to keep your premarital property separate, you should try to use premarital funds or inherited money to maintain a non-marital property.
Get a Prenup
Of course, if you are worried about what will happen to your assets should your coming marriage fall apart in the future, then you may want to consider getting a prenup. While this can be a difficult conversation to initiate with your partner, a prenup can protect you greatly in the event that your marriage ends in divorce. Your prenup can prevent stress, fighting, and loss for both parties involved by outlining each of your premarital assets and determining who will get what in the event of divorce.
If you are considering getting a prenup before your marriage to protect your assets, it is critical that you work with a skilled attorney. Contact us to learn more about how you could benefit from getting a prenup before your wedding.