When two people get married, they often combine their assets. It can be a great way to strengthen your financial position as a couple. However, it can also leave you vulnerable to unforeseen circumstances, such as separation or death.
So, one of the big questions is how can you protect your assets? After all, if things go wrong, you don’t want to lose everything you’ve worked so hard for. The good news is that there are legal ways to do this. These laws can help you protect your assets in ways you may not have thought of.
Here are some critical property and finance laws that can help you safeguard your assets:
When you get married, any property you own becomes marital property. It means that your spouse has a legal right to share the property. You can protect your assets by keeping them in your name, but it may not be practical or possible in all cases.
For example, you may have joint bank accounts or mortgages. In these cases, you can protect your assets by getting a legal agreement (often called a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement) that sets out how the property will get divided if you decide to end your marriage. You can also put certain assets in a trust to not be considered marital property.
Marital property laws can be complex, so it’s essential to get professional legal advice before getting married. This way, you will know what assets are at risk and how to protect them best.
If you’re already married and thinking of separating, a separation agreement can help you protect your assets. A separation agreement is a legal contract that sets out how you and your spouse divide your property and debts. It can also deal with other essential matters, such as child custody and support.
Separation agreements are not always necessary, but they can help protect your assets. For example, if you have a lot of debt in your name, a divorce contract can ensure that your spouse is not responsible for paying it off.
It’s important to note that separation agreements may not be enforceable in every situation. For example, same-sex couples who separated before same-sex marriage gets legalized may not be able to enforce their contract. So, it’s essential to get a divorce lawyer for same-sex couples for legal advice before signing a separation agreement.
Aside from divorce agreements, you can also protect your assets by getting a court order. For example, if you’re worried about your spouse hiding assets during the divorce process, you can ask the court to freeze all your joint accounts. In doing so, neither of you can access the money until the divorce gets finalized.
A will is a legal document that details how you would like your assets to get distributed after your death. For married couples, wills can be an important way to protect each other if one spouse dies. Without a will, state laws determine how your assets will get divided, which may not be per your wishes.
Additionally, suppose you depart without a will. In that case, your spouse may be required to go through probate’s costly and time-consuming process. By creating a will, you can ensure that your assets get distributed according to your wishes and that your spouse can avoid the stress of probate.
Plus, you can use wills to designate guardians for minor children, making them an essential tool for parents. While nothing can completely protect your assets in the marriage, having a will can give you peace of mind knowing that you have taken steps to protect your family in your death.
A living trust is another way to protect your assets and ensure they go to the people you want. You can transfer ownership of your assets to the trust while you’re alive with a living trust. The trustee, who you appoint, then manages the assets according to your wishes.
However, living trusts do have some drawbacks. For example, they can be expensive to set up and manage. Additionally, living trusts are not always necessary, depending on the size of your estate.
Still, living trusts offer a way to keep your assets out of probate and ensure they go to the people you want. If you’re interested in setting up a living trust, getting professional legal advice is essential to ensure it’s the best option for you.
Of course, these options require some careful planning and negotiation. But if you’re serious about protecting your assets, the above options are worth considering. Whether you’re about to get married or are already married, professional legal advice can help you safeguard your assets and ensure your wishes get carried out.