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How can married couples protect assets without a prenup?


For most Minnesota couples, getting married is a major decision. While many financial decisions go into planning a wedding and a new future with their significant other, some couples do not include financial protection through a prenuptial agreement in their pre-wedding plans. While a prenup is able to provide financial protection, married couples should understand that it is not an end all if they did not include one in their union.

How can married couples protect assets without a prenup? One way spouses can protect their own assets is by keeping separate accounts. By not comingling funds in a joint bank account, there are no discrepancies regarding how much money belongs to each spouse. This is the best way to protect assets a spouse had prior to marriage and those received during marriage as an inheritance or a non-marital gift.

Next, spouses could keep their own real estate separate. That means not putting their spouse's name on the house's deed following marriage. If a spouse seeks to pass a home onto the other spouse in the event of death, he or she could do that via a will. This would allow them to avoid putting their spouse's name on the deed and risk having it considered during property division in a divorce.

If a spouse has taken the first two steps, then it is important to take a third step to further protect their assets without a prenup. He or she will need to use non-marital funds from their separate bank account to maintain their separate real estate. If marital funds are used to maintain non-marital property, this could be considered comingling, which could cause the property to be considered marital property.

Lastly, if a spouse owns a business at the date of marriage, it is important to have it valued around the time of marriage. Because courts could carve off the appreciated value of a non-marital business, it is important to know the value of the business at the date of marriage. This provides added security and protection to the business if a divorce were to occur.

While these steps could help spouses protect personal assets and property without a prenup, these steps only work if they are timely and properly executed. Because of that, it is important that spouses understand their options and how they could resolve these and other potential property division issues during dissolution.

Source: Abcnews.com, "5 Ways to Protect Your Money Without a Prenup," Rebecca Zung, accessed on Jan. 11, 2016

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