Q: My fiance and I have just about called off our wedding. My grandparents and parents have given me significant amounts of money, and I will inherit more in the future. I started reading your column several months ago because I wanted to see the mistakes others have made so I could avoid them. I read your article about premarital agreements, saw a lawyer, and decided that I needed one. Well, my boyfriend says I don't trust him and he won't sign. All I want is to protect my family's assets. Am I wrong?
A: We don't think so. If you can't talk about it before you marry, just think about how it will be afterwards. Maybe your fiance doesn't understand what a premarital agreement is. It is a contract entered before marriage that regulates your financial relationship at death or divorce. It changes how state law would otherwise deal with your property if the marriage ends by death or divorce. It is designed to avoid the acrimony that often accompanies divorce. And with a 50 percent chance of your marriage becoming a divorce statistic, it can be part of an overall plan if used properly.
Obviously, you feel you need to protect your assets and just as obviously, there is a large difference between the value of your assets and his. Your family did not give you money to see it divided up in divorce court because you used it during your marriage. We believe that your relationship deserves a second look - before you say, "I do."
Jan Warner is a matrimonial, tax, and elder law attorney. Jan Stucker is an award-winning writer. Submit questions in writing to P. O. Box 11704, Columbia, South Carolina 29211 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Because of volume, answers will appear in the column or on the website.
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