Long, Murphy & Zung, P.A.

Prenups can not only protect your assets, but ward off debt

You may question why you're getting married if you feel the need to think about the prospect of a divorce at the time. However, some financial experts caution that it's a wise thing to do.

Under most jurisdictions' laws, one spouse's creditors can hold a husband or wife liable even if they have nothing to do with racking up the debt. This means that the home that the two of you live in or the joint account that you two share could easily be seized by creditors and used to repay your debts. Signing a prenup can help prevent against this.

If you have kids and happen to die without a will, then there's no guarantee that your children will receive the care you intended for them to in the future. This is why many legal experts recommend not just having a will, but also keeping at least one account in your own name, protected by the prenup, that's specifically earmarked for the kids.

Unless you are careful as to how you go about commingling assets, then you may inadvertently take what was protected under your prenup as separate property and make it joint instead. Keeping inheritances out of joint accounts and paying taxes owed on your own property from an account solely in your name is important to maintain a valid prenup.

Some other legal experts note that you should set up new joint accounts as opposed to adding your spouse to an existing one if you want to preserve your prenup. You should also set up a new account to receive a gift or inheritance. You should also be careful when titling homes in case your spouse predeceases you so that your partner's right to the property don't get passed on to their heirs as well.

Keeping track of your investment accounts and their values and having the value of a second home or business appraised may be helpful to have on hand before you marry. Having copies of wills that you may have been a beneficiary to may also be helpful to have in case you ever end up in divorce court and are asked to divide up assets.

In learning more about your particular situation, a Naples attorney can advise you as to how to both protect your assets and prevent you from being held liable for your future spouse's debts.

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