Weddings require significant planning. In addition to common items, such as hiring a photograph and finding a venue, there are less obvious, but as important, items to add to, and check-off, the planning list.
Open new accounts.
If you have money in a checking account or savings account, open a new savings account (that we’ll call “my account”) and transfer all of your pre-marriage money into said account. Then, after marriage, continue depositing money into your original accounts and using that money to pay for your expenses.
This way, in the unlikely event of a divorce, you have a clear way to distinguish between what money is marital and subject to division (the money in your original accounts) and what money is solely yours that you do not need to divide (the money in the “my account”).
Document what you own prior to marriage.
What valuable property do you own? Is it a car, a house, a painting, jewelry, retirement accounts, whole life insurance policy with accumulated cash value? Do you own this property outright or are you still paying on a loan?
You want to keep track of all the valuable items you own and the amount of equity that you have in each item prior to marriage. Equity is the value of an item minus any loans. Thus, if you own a house worth $100k but have an $80k mortgage, then you have $20k in equity. Input the value and equity numbers into a spreadsheet and store away documentation proving the numbers.
In the unlikely event of a divorce, you will need to prove how much of the valuable property belongs solely to you and/or whether you are entitled to keep more than half of the value of each item.
For example, if you have a whole life insurance policy with accumulated cash value of $2k at the time of marriage, then, during divorce you can claim the $2k as belonging solely to you and then split the remainder of the cash value that accumulated during marriage equally.
Similarly, if prior to marriage you own a home worth $100k with an $80k mortgage, then at the time of the divorce, you will get to keep $20k and will then split equally the remaining value of the home, e.g. $80k if the home is fully paid out. Thus, if you sell the home during divorce, you would get to keep $60k and your spouse would take $40k.
Often times, figuring out the value of property and a spous’s equity in it prior to marriage is difficulty to do 20 years later. Individuals end up spending thousands of dollars in attorney fees and costs in order to claim property that rightfully belongs to them. By keeping a spreadsheet and documentation, you can save a lot of time and money in the future.
Sign a Prenup
You are probably thinking, “I don’t want to jinx my marriage by getting a prenup,” or “I don’t want to enter my marriage with an expectation of failure.”
However, prenups neither predispose you to divorce nor suggest that you have little faith in your marriage. Rather, prenups are equivalent to insurance policies. You pay for health insurance for the unlikely event that you end up needing major medical care, but paying for health insurance doesn’t mean you are setting yourself up to get sick. You pay for disability insurance for the unlikely event that you will become disabled, but the payments do not predispose you to disability. Similarly, you invest in a prenup in the unlikely event that you get a divorce, but the prenup itself does not mean that you will get divorced.
Unlike other insurance policies where you pay premiums until the unlikely event occurs, if ever, with a prenup, you pay once. A $1000 investment prior to marriage can in the long run save you $10,000 in attorney fees and costs during a divorce.
Mathematically, a prenup has the best price-value than any other insurance policy.
Want a prenup? Let us know. We'd love to help!