Can I protect my assets without a prenup?

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Question:

I am planning to get married in three months to a person I love and trust a great deal. However, I bring into the marriage a house, 401(k) funds, and several other assets, while he owns very little. What is the best way to protect myself? I don't believe in starting a marriage with a legal document that talks about divorce, so I don't want to do a prenup. But how can I legally document what is mine prior to the marriage date? And what should I do to protect my equity in the house I have today if we decide to sell it and buy one jointly?

Answer:

Depending on where you live, if you keep all of your pre-marriage assets strictly separate they may remain yours. No written agreement is needed as long as the separation is very clear and you don't contribute any joint funds to the upkeep of your separate property. But if you combine your assets with post-marriage assets, as would likely be the case if you buy a house together, you will need to prepare a written agreement to spell out who owns what (for example, you could agree to own two-thirds of the house and your spouse to-be could own one-third). And if you want to be really secure that you'll hold on to your stuff, a prenup is the best method.

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