The title to this article is a mild variation of a quote I have heard from many high net worth clients over the years. This is especially common for those who have been married for some time and lived in a state outside of Texas that is not a community property state. So, what can you do?
Plan! It is important to talk to an experienced and qualified family law attorney. Said attorney can assist you in understanding how your assets and debts are characterized…separate or community; and how to keep them that way.
Many high net worth individuals that I represent already have significant assets when they are about to get married. These assets are separate as they were obtained prior to marriage. However, it is common for co-mingling of separate and community funds to start taking place after marriage.
How does this occur? After you get married, you continue to direct deposit your salary, distributions and bonuses into the same account that you have been using for years. Now, you have separate and community funds in the same account. You write a check for a new car. Is the car separate or community? Good question.
The best advice is to keep separate what has been separate. Open a new account for your deposits after marriage and never put “new” money into the old account without the advice of counsel.
While it is not as romantic as roses and chocolates, a prenuptial agreement that is executed by you and your soon to be spouse prior to the marriage can save you a lot of headaches down the road. So can a post-nuptial agreement for that matter. What all can they cover? A lot.
There are other options as well, but the brevity of this article does not allow me to address them here. If you and your assets need protecting, call the experienced and aggressive family lawyers at Hammerle, Finley.