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Can assets be protected without prenuptial agreements?

A prenuptial agreement is a good way for Minnesota couples to protect assets. Whether they amassed millions or even billions of dollars from running a successful business or inherited real estate from a relative, many want to hold onto their property as long as possible. Splitting it up in a divorce is not a a desirable option for many. So when it comes time to walk down the aisle, what happens when the other party refuses to sign a prenuptial agreement? Can the property still be protected?

Many people don't believe in prenuptial agreements, as they can seem unromantic to a couple deeply in love. Or maybe it just wasn't thought about, with wedding planning on the mind. Whatever the reason, once the couple has tied the knot, keeping assets separate becomes more and more difficult. The key is to keep non-marital property from being commingled - joined with the other partner's assets.

Once this happens, any assets owned before marriage become marital property. This includes not only cash, but real estate, businesses and retirement accounts. But by keeping the other partner off the deed of the house, for example, a person can keep a house in his or her name only. Another good tip? If there are retirement accounts involved, keep every statement from the wedding date through the divorce. It's possible that the amount in the account at the time of marriage won't have to be split. Also, if there is a business involved, get a valuation right around the wedding date. That way, only the amount of appreciation, not the entire value of the company, is split in a divorce.

Protecting assets without a prenup requires extreme discipline. A person needs to be financially savvy in order to keep property separate. One wrong move and a person could be headed for financial disaster. A prenuptial agreement may be a way for those who want to protect a substantial amount of money or other assets without having to keep a close watch on every dollar.

Source: Time, "5 Ways to Protect Your Money Without a Prenup," Rebecca Zung, May 6, 2015

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