I was recently involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, since it was my first accident, I was scatter-brained and anxious. What I did not realize at the time was that the actions you take immediately after the accident can affect a personal injury case and the outcome of that case. I wanted to find a way to share my experiences and mistakes with other. Since the Internet is so popular, I figured this would be a great way to do so. While you likely aren't planning on being in an accident soon, if you are, hopefully you remember some of the tips I share on this website.
If you have substantially more wealth than the person you are going to marry, you may be concerned about keeping your premarital assets in the event of divorce, especially if you want them to stay in your family of origin or save them for your children from a prior relationship. There are some ways you can protect these, and it may be that a combination of strategies would be your best bet.
Keep Things Separate
To protect your non-marital assets, you should keep them separate from the marital assets as much as possible, and keep good records of your money including where it has come from and what it is used for.
You should also know the value of your art, jewelry, property, or financial assets and have a complete record of them. You will want to keep non-marital real estate and bank accounts solely in your name.
If you have a will, it should be kept updated to reflect current circumstances and desires.
Make a Prenuptial Agreement
One of the best advantages of a prenuptial agreement is that it can limit the amount of assets accrued during the marriage that could be transferred to an ex. The main disadvantage is that it would be difficult for some to broach the subject with a fiancé. There is also a possibility that a prenup could be disputed in court.
To ensure that this agreement would hold up you should:
Make the agreement sometime before the wedding/elopement, since an agreement made within weeks or days of the marriage could indicate that the person was emotionally coerced in signing it.
Avoid putting bizarre provisions in it such as appearance requirements, sexual preferences, etc.
Make sure the provisions are fair and reasonable.
Make sure the other person has a separate lawyer to represent their interests.
Set Up Trusts
To protect assets that came from a prior divorce settlement, your business, or from an inheritance, etc. you can set up a non-revocable trust. If you set up one in the US it is called a domestic asset-protection trust (DAPT). A great advantage to doing this is that you do not need to have the consent of your fiancé to set it up.
A disadvantage to this is that it is a non-revocable trust so you won't have control of the assets or the power to revoke it later. However, you will be able to set up the disbursements to come to you. You may have to go out-of-state to set up one that would best fit your needs since the state laws differ on what these can be used for. Currently Nevada is the best state to do this.
You may also be interested in a foreign asset-protection trust (FAPT) from an offshore location such as the Cook Islands, and it works much the same way.
A non-revocable trust is something you should definitely set up before the marriage takes place. Financial maneuvering after the wedding day without a spouse's knowledge or consent is considered dishonest and unethical, so you might have difficulties keeping the trust inviolate should you find yourself in divorce court later.
To recap: Plan to keep non-marital assets separate during the marriage and also make sure you will is kept up-to-date. Several months before the impending marriage, make a fair prenuptial agreement with your fiancé, while assuring that they are legally represented with their own family law attorney. Consider setting up an asset-protection trust before marriage to protect significant non-marital assets.