Kajko, Weisman & Colasanti, LLP

Ways to keep your assets safe from a divorce

Do you fear that a divorce may end up taking away a piece of land or a vehicle you love and cherish, or deplete you of much of your financial capital? While some couples may have this concern, even Massachusetts couples who do not even think divorce is a remote possibility have avenues available to protect their assets before a separation actually does occur.  

According to a piece run in Forbes, composing a prenuptial agreement is one way to ensure your assets will be protected. However, not all prenuptials are ironclad. A judge may invalidate a prenuptial agreement if it was signed under duress, or if not all the assets owned by a spouse are disclosed. The Forbes article recommends consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer to make sure the prenup can stand up to court challenges.

There are also actions you can take to protect your assets by yourself. First, keep your assets separate from your spouse. Make sure your assets are kept in your name and do not co-mingle it with your spouse, such as putting your money in a jointly owned back account or owning a piece of property with your spouse. If you mingle your assets with your spouse’s, it will be considered by courts to be marital property and can be subject to division in a divorce proceeding.

The Forbes piece also recommends that you conduct an appraisal of all your assets, including your property, a business you may own, automobiles, boats or any vehicle you possess. This appraisal should be completed as of the date when you get married. This appraisal will reveal the value of your assets and establish it so that there is no guesswork or disputing of the value in the event a divorce occurs.

You can also transfer money or assets into a separate trust. Trusts offer important protection, primarily because assets in a trust are no longer under your direct ownership. Thus a divorce judge cannot order those assets dispersed in the event you separate from your spouse. Ideally, you would want to set up a trust before you get married, but setting one up years before divorce is even contemplated is sufficient.

In the event you are married but not divorced, and you have not signed a prenuptial agreement, according to a different article in Forbes, you may still sign a postnuptial agreement with your spouse to attempt to separate your assets. However, judges may scrutinize postnuptials more intensely, since in a marriage the two spouses now possess more rights than when they were apart. Also, a judge will want the postnuptial to have been conducted in good faith without one party taking advantage of the other.

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