to pre-nup or not?

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JoeyJoeJoe
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to pre-nup or not?

Post by JoeyJoeJoe »

Hello,

My partner and I are at the very beginning stages of looking to purchase a home together. We are not married but we have agreed it would be a good idea. Although I intend to be with her for the duration, [stuff happens --admin LadyGeek] and I want to protect what I have. It's giving me a bit of stress and I haven't broached the pre-nup discussion yet but need to very soon.

Here are particulars:

Me:
  • 49 years old
  • Net worth of $1.1m (of that $120,000 in cash, the rest in 401(k), Trad. IRA and other investments)
  • No debt
  • Never married
  • No kids
  • Never owned a home
Her:
  • 57 years old
  • Net worth $120,000 (of that $20,000 in cash, the remainder in 401(c) and Trad. IRA)
  • May come into additional cash (up to $100,000) but unsure when that will happen or exactly how much it will amount to
  • No debt
  • Divorced 20+ years ago
  • One adult child (27 y.o.). Out of the home and about to get married herself.
  • Never owned a home
We are currently renting separately with intention of moving in together to increase savings rate for home purchase in the Richmond, VA area. (Currently live in MA).

Yes, I'm a latecomer to marriage so I'm embarrassingly naive here and will obviously have to consult an attorney. My primary concern with my partner is her relationship with money. She's been reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me, including her spending habits, and that gives me pause. Says this is because I have accumulated more and she's ashamed. I get it. But we still need a thorough review of assets before moving forward. It's a bit like pulling teeth. I've shown her what I've got.

Questions:
  • Do we get married first, in Massachusetts? Then purchase the home in Richmond?
  • Or get married in Richmond as we are looking to move there anyway?
  • Is a pre-nup advisable, here? I'm getting a bit old to recover from losing half of my assets in case things go south.
  • Are my tax-exempt savings hers too once we get hitched up? I'm assuming yes so sorry about the naive question.
Many other questions but that's the start.

Thanks,
JJJ
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BolderBoy
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by BolderBoy »

I was reading a bit about divorce the other day and the attorney who wrote the piece said that a pre-nup should be a part of every marriage. See a matrimonial attorney in a multi-attorney firm. S/he will make the case to both of you - before you marry - as to why a pre-nup protects you both (even if it looks like it will only protect you.) Then different attorneys in the firm will represent each of you separately in the pre-nup agreement.

Oh, and be absolutely sure you keep your pre-marriage financial statements forever.

I am not a lawyer (IANAL).
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stan1
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by stan1 »

With what you describe:
1) MOST IMPORTANTLY I would not co-mingle your pre-marital assets.
2) Given your ages, her daughter, and mix of assets I would strongly consider a pre-nup
3) I would not get married just because you think it is a good idea. There are ways to own a home together without being married and it is very possible to have a long term relationship without marriage. If you do that while buying a home you want an attorney to draw up a "living together" document that lays out how each of you will contribute to the home's down payment, mortgage, taxes, operating costs, etc. and eventual sale. If a 50/50 split is possible that's the easiest. Marriage is a complex topic with social, religious, and legal considerations.
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Cyclesafe
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Cyclesafe »

A marriage is also a financial partnership. If you can't get straight answers about finances, then a prenup at a minimum will help both of you think through these issues. IMHO, you both should be absolutely sure to get this nailed down before there is a legal commitment.

If you were similarly financially situated recent graduates, the answer could be different. You're not.
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Startingover2019
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Startingover2019 »

For sure get a prenup. Ask me how I know.
chevca
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by chevca »

JoeyJoeJoe wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:05 pm Although I intend to be with her for the duration, sh*t happens and I want to protect what I have.
You pretty much answered your own question here. You want a pre-nup.
campy2010
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by campy2010 »

Get married because you want to get married. And at that point, I think most reasonable older adults are ok with the idea of a pre-nup to protect pre-marital assets. But in your situation, I suggest buying a home using your income/assets and ask her to contribute to monthly expenses. In my mind, a couple that cannot discuss finances and spending habits openly and honestly isn't ready to get married.
Dottie57
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Dottie57 »

Don’t get married without knowing EVERYTHING about each others finances AND life story. Talk about the future - short ter, medium term, long term. Talk about end of life issues. Discussing everything should be a requirement for getting married.

Yes - at your ages you do want a pre-nup. Don’t neglect to get wills too.
Llpt15
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Llpt15 »

I would get a pre-nup, marriage if it fails which statistics say more likely is a financial breakup in the end. Her attitude on a pre-nup will tell you if she is good for you. I only got ahead in my savings when I divorced so it is an important part of marriage to be compatible on your financial goals and I agree full disclosure is a must.
Unladen_Swallow
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Unladen_Swallow »

My opinion only:


If two people can't share their financial situation completely, a marriage is not advisable (pre-nup or not). Especially when the individuals are older.
"I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong." - Richard Feynman
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mrspock
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by mrspock »

Yes, get a prenup. You can’t (without great cost) “start over” in your 50s, so if you want to protect your retirement then I think it’s prudent.

As for the prenup conversation, it’s hard, but way less hard than divorce without one :) . Given your ages, I think she will understand where you are coming from. If she reacts really negatively, then you should debug this a bit before moving forward.
bluebolt
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by bluebolt »

Often these threads are about younger couples without previous marriages and kids and I could go either way.

In your situation, I would definitely do a prenup as well as figuring out wills/trusts. Do you want your pre-marital assets going to her daughter or somewhere else?
Vanguard Fan 1367
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 »

Unladen_Swallow wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:23 pm My opinion only:


If two people can't share their financial situation completely, a marriage is not advisable (pre-nup or not). Especially when the individuals are older.
I have heard the great Dave Ramsey say that if we are talking about 5 million or more in assets that crazy things can happen and he would recommend considering a pre nup.

If you are older and want to leave things to your children or to whomever and want to get married because you don't believe in living together without matrimony I would thing that it might be a good idea to consider a pre nup.
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BarbBrooklyn
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

Why would you purchase a home (or do any serious financial transaction) with a person who is not willing to be transparent about their finances and on-going ability to pay a mortgage and other expenses?
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finite_difference
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by finite_difference »

If you’re not willing to give away half of your material assets to the person you marry, then you probably shouldn’t be getting married. I would live together for a while before deciding. No need to rush into things.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. - Thich Nhat Hanh
Luckywon
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Luckywon »

Certainly you should get a prenup. Complete financial disclosure will be a part of the prenuptial drafting process.

At the same time, you and she should draft your estate plans. In the event you die first, do you plan to leave your individual assets to your wife, and her children after she dies? Or do you want them to go to your wife in a protection trust and then to relatives of your own? Or not go to your wife at all? Best time to discuss these things is before the marriage.
manatee2005
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by manatee2005 »

JoeyJoeJoe wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:05 pm Hello,

My partner and I are at the very beginning stages of looking to purchase a home together. We are not married but we have agreed it would be a good idea. Although I intend to be with her for the duration, [stuff happens --admin LadyGeek] and I want to protect what I have. It's giving me a bit of stress and I haven't broached the pre-nup discussion yet but need to very soon.

Here are particulars:

Me:
  • 49 years old
  • Net worth of $1.1m (of that $120,000 in cash, the rest in 401(k), Trad. IRA and other investments)
  • No debt
  • Never married
  • No kids
  • Never owned a home
Her:
  • 57 years old
  • Net worth $120,000 (of that $20,000 in cash, the remainder in 401(c) and Trad. IRA)
  • May come into additional cash (up to $100,000) but unsure when that will happen or exactly how much it will amount to
  • No debt
  • Divorced 20+ years ago
  • One adult child (27 y.o.). Out of the home and about to get married herself.
  • Never owned a home
We are currently renting separately with intention of moving in together to increase savings rate for home purchase in the Richmond, VA area. (Currently live in MA).

Yes, I'm a latecomer to marriage so I'm embarrassingly naive here and will obviously have to consult an attorney. My primary concern with my partner is her relationship with money. She's been reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me, including her spending habits, and that gives me pause. Says this is because I have accumulated more and she's ashamed. I get it. But we still need a thorough review of assets before moving forward. It's a bit like pulling teeth. I've shown her what I've got.

Questions:
  • Do we get married first, in Massachusetts? Then purchase the home in Richmond?
  • Or get married in Richmond as we are looking to move there anyway?
  • Is a pre-nup advisable, here? I'm getting a bit old to recover from losing half of my assets in case things go south.
  • Are my tax-exempt savings hers too once we get hitched up? I'm assuming yes so sorry about the naive question.
Many other questions but that's the start.

Thanks,
JJJ
"We are not married but we have agreed it would be a good idea"

I don't think it's a good idea. My view is that marriage is there for the kids. Since it doesn't look like you'll be having kids, why get married?

"She's been reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me, including her spending habits, and that gives me pause."

Red flag. Run. Unless you want your 1.1 mil to turn into 100k.
BarbBrooklyn
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

Ask yourself this; if in 20 years of being on her own, she has only accumulated 120K (assuming she makes more than minimum wage) and if you know her salary, you know an awful lot about her spending habits.

She spends every cent she makes. And she will spend every cent you make as well.

Something else to consider, as she is older than you; in the event that she needs long term care (Assisted Living, Nursing home) your marital assets are in no way protected, not even by a pre-nup. That alone makes marriage something to think long and hard about.
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
Momus
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Momus »

Absolutely, prenup.
basspond
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by basspond »

The only time I would recommend a prenup if children (no matter what age) are brought into a marriage.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by RickBoglehead »

Unladen_Swallow wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:23 pm My opinion only:


If two people can't share their financial situation completely, a marriage is not advisable (pre-nup or not). Especially when the individuals are older.
This ^^^

You can buy a home together but not be married.
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UpperNwGuy
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

Get the pre-nup. I didn't have one, and I sure wish I did.
WJW
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by WJW »

Startingover2019 wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:10 pm For sure get a prenup. Ask me how I know.
+1
On my 2nd marriage with a prenup and don't even think about it. DW was very understanding of my position on the matter.
BarbBrooklyn
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

Dottie57 wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:13 pm Don’t get married without knowing EVERYTHING about each others finances AND life story. Talk about the future - short ter, medium term, long term. Talk about end of life issues. Discussing everything should be a requirement for getting married.

Yes - at your ages you do want a pre-nup. Don’t neglect to get wills too.
The other thing to talk about and get clarity on is how each of you feels about care of elderly parents.

I remarried in my 50s and it was very important that we agreed that neither of our mothers was going to move in.

People of middle age have decades of living behind them and their habits, both of actions and in their ways of thinking are set and not easily changed.
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
aristotelian
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by aristotelian »

I do think the child from previous marriage is a good reason to have a prenup. Might want to update your will while you're at it.
DVMResident
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by DVMResident »

I don't see the point of getting married in your case. There are no childern. Moreover, you have tools other than marriage to protect each other: tenancy in common purchase of the home (your half goes to partner in case of your demise and vice versa) and your Will.

But, if you do get married, 100% get a pre-nup.
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Dottie57 »

BarbBrooklyn wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:24 am Ask yourself this; if in 20 years of being on her own, she has only accumulated 120K (assuming she makes more than minimum wage) and if you know her salary, you know an awful lot about her spending habits.

She spends every cent she makes. And she will spend every cent you make as well.

Something else to consider, as she is older than you; in the event that she needs long term care (Assisted Living, Nursing home) your marital assets are in no way protected, not even by a pre-nup. That alone makes marriage something to think long and hard about.
This. The items in here bother me. Akr sure a pre nup says your debts belong to the individual and not the marriage. Too many little red flags.
mptfan
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by mptfan »

JoeyJoeJoe wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:05 pmMy primary concern with my partner is her relationship with money. She's been reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me, including her spending habits, and that gives me pause.
I would not marry someone if I was concerned about her relationship with money and she was reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me.
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by MotoTrojan »

Cyclesafe wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 8:07 pm A marriage is also a financial partnership. If you can't get straight answers about finances, then a prenup at a minimum will help both of you think through these issues. IMHO, you both should be absolutely sure to get this nailed down before there is a legal commitment.

If you were similarly financially situated recent graduates, the answer could be different. You're not.
+1. Even if the answer is “I plan to take care of our home/family and my assets will not be a significant contribution, but here they are and here’s how much I spend a month that you’ll need to take on”, that’s still something you can make an informed decision on. What if she has $250K in secret debt?

Her reaction to the conversation of a pre-nup could also be telling. She’s past her early-career and child-rearing stages so she doesn’t have much traditional grounds to stand on (not sacrificing anything) other than claiming it shows your lack of love/faith.

I’m not getting one for my upcoming marriage but I anticipate our assets being 20X+ what they are today in retirement and know her habits and that beyond the love, it’ll be an improvement in my financial life, even if she never worked again.
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Sandtrap »

She's been reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me, including her spending habits, and that gives me pause.
How solid is the foundation of any relationship without "trust", "disclosure", and "reciprocity. . . equally".
Actionable suggestions and thoughts:
1. Remain on "pause" (not delete).
2. Reciprocity in actions and specifics over words and promises. (again, that trust thing)
3. If you have not brought up discussing a "prenup" or the possibility of it, would bringing that up be a "deal breaker" or somehow "taint the relationship going forward"?
4. If you both do not establish a solid financial relationship now, it might become larger issues later. Agree?
5. Everyone approaches these things differently because everyone and every relationship is different and unique. Follow your "heart" and definitely your "brain".

j :happy
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anon3838
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by anon3838 »

Even if you don’t get married, and you live together, at a minimum, I would consider a Tenancy In Common agreement, which protects your disproportionate investment in the property.

As others stated, definitely get a prenup.

Don’t comingle assets EVER.

Keep premarital financial statements forever. In the event of divorce, you’re entitled to all your premarital assets, but you must have proof it was yours. Statements and canceled checks.
Luckywon
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Luckywon »

DVMResident wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:24 am I don't see the point of getting married in your case. There are no childern. Moreover, you have tools other than marriage to protect each other: tenancy in common purchase of the home (your half goes to partner in case of your demise and vice versa) and your Will.
Benefits that only marriage confers:

-Spousal social security benefits while alive and as survivor.

-Spousal inheritance of retirement accounts have much more favorable RMD requirements, even more so after recent SECURE legislation.

-Possibly spousal pension benefits, employment medical benefits.

-Federal and possibly state spousal estate tax benefits.

-In some states, like California, property tax benefits for surviving spouse (no reassessment).

-In community property states, full step up in basis for community property.

-Insurance rates for car often lower as married couple. Better to have home and umbrella instance as married couple.

There are surely many more.
DVMResident
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by DVMResident »

Luckywon wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:07 am
DVMResident wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:24 am I don't see the point of getting married in your case. There are no childern. Moreover, you have tools other than marriage to protect each other: tenancy in common purchase of the home (your half goes to partner in case of your demise and vice versa) and your Will.
Benefits that only marriage confers:

-Spousal social security benefits while alive and as survivor.

-Spousal inheritance of retirement accounts have much more favorable RMD requirements, even more so after recent SECURE legislation.

-Possibly spousal pension benefits, employment medical benefits.

-Federal and possibly state spousal estate tax benefits.

-In some states, like California, property tax benefits for surviving spouse (no reassessment).

-In community property states, full step up in basis for community property.

-Insurance rates for car often lower as married couple. Better to have home and umbrella instance as married couple.

There are surely many more.
Sure, there are huge benefits for the other party, not the OP. This contract will be very one-sided and it's not in favor of the one with the assets. The OP states "I'm getting a bit old to recover from losing half of my assets in case things go south."

Now if the other party (low asset with marginal fiscal skills) posted the original post, my recommendation would get married without a pre-nup and list all the goodies you just did.
sailaway
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by sailaway »

DVMResident wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:44 am
Luckywon wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:07 am
DVMResident wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:24 am I don't see the point of getting married in your case. There are no childern. Moreover, you have tools other than marriage to protect each other: tenancy in common purchase of the home (your half goes to partner in case of your demise and vice versa) and your Will.
Benefits that only marriage confers:

-Spousal social security benefits while alive and as survivor.

-Spousal inheritance of retirement accounts have much more favorable RMD requirements, even more so after recent SECURE legislation.

-Possibly spousal pension benefits, employment medical benefits.

-Federal and possibly state spousal estate tax benefits.

-In some states, like California, property tax benefits for surviving spouse (no reassessment).

-In community property states, full step up in basis for community property.

-Insurance rates for car often lower as married couple. Better to have home and umbrella instance as married couple.

There are surely many more.
Sure, there are huge benefits for the other party, not the OP. This contract will be very one-sided and it's not in favor of the one with the assets. The OP states "I'm getting a bit old to recover from losing half of my assets in case things go south."

Now if the other party (low asset with marginal fiscal skills) posted the original post, my recommendation would get married without a pre-nup and list all the goodies you just did.
-Hospital visitation rights

-Next of kin legal rights

-family leave benefits, if still working

-increased serotonin (unclear if the studies were single vs coupled or coupled vs married)

-ability to gift twice as much without any estate concerns

-ability to transfer funds within the couple without any gift/estate concerns

-if the OP needs long term care, there are some protections for a spouse in the home that would not exist without the marriage

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Some people just want to get married because of what it represents to them personally.
Luckywon
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Luckywon »

sailaway wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:57 am
DVMResident wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:44 am
Luckywon wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 10:07 am
DVMResident wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:24 am I don't see the point of getting married in your case. There are no childern. Moreover, you have tools other than marriage to protect each other: tenancy in common purchase of the home (your half goes to partner in case of your demise and vice versa) and your Will.
Benefits that only marriage confers:

-Spousal social security benefits while alive and as survivor.

-Spousal inheritance of retirement accounts have much more favorable RMD requirements, even more so after recent SECURE legislation.

-Possibly spousal pension benefits, employment medical benefits.

-Federal and possibly state spousal estate tax benefits.

-In some states, like California, property tax benefits for surviving spouse (no reassessment).

-In community property states, full step up in basis for community property.

-Insurance rates for car often lower as married couple. Better to have home and umbrella instance as married couple.

There are surely many more.
Sure, there are huge benefits for the other party, not the OP. This contract will be very one-sided and it's not in favor of the one with the assets. The OP states "I'm getting a bit old to recover from losing half of my assets in case things go south."

Now if the other party (low asset with marginal fiscal skills) posted the original post, my recommendation would get married without a pre-nup and list all the goodies you just did.
-Hospital visitation rights

-Next of kin legal rights

-family leave benefits, if still working

-increased serotonin (unclear if the studies were single vs coupled or coupled vs married)

-ability to gift twice as much without any estate concerns

-ability to transfer funds within the couple without any gift/estate concerns

-if the OP needs long term care, there are some protections for a spouse in the home that would not exist without the marriage

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Some people just want to get married because of what it represents to them personally.
Exactly. There are lots of tangible and intangible benefits to being married. So my recommendation is to get married, and get a prenup in this case considering the circumstances and OP's concerns.
mcraepat9
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by mcraepat9 »

Not commingling is hard -

1. How do you avoid commingling your 401k?
2. What about paying taxes on your separate investments?
Amateur investors are not cool-headed logicians.
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by bottlecap »

Don't take specific legal advice here. Laws are state specific and, honestly, people have serious misconceptions about how the law works.

That said, at your ages and because of the disparity in savings, you should have a prenup.

Because she has a child, she should have a prenup to make sure her kid gets what she intends.

This is standard stuff in the later stages of life. It shouldn’t be a difficult topic to broach with her.

JT
sailaway
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by sailaway »

There is an author of a popular book that was made into a movie a few years ago. No one ever gave me a good reason to read the popular book or watch the movie, but her follow up book about marriage intrigued me. In there, she views a pre nup as a means of insuring that you treat each other with respect if things go really bad. That is, you create the document together when you are at a high point in your relationship as a kind of insurance against making the low point even worse.
Soon2BXProgrammer
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Soon2BXProgrammer »

my wife and i had almost nothing when we got married so it wasn't a big issue.

However, you have a "pre-nup", it is what is the law. Everyone has a prenup.
The question actually is, do you want the law of the state to tell you what happens? Or do you wnat to have a conversation about it with your soon to be spouse?
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Hiwatter
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Hiwatter »

You have 1.1m, so yes you need a pre-nup.

She also has assets that she earned. So she needs one too

They are a good idea for every marriage where 2 people have assets they have earned and have an interest in protecting just in case things somehow go south. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
redrocker
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by redrocker »

sailaway wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:24 am There is an author of a popular book that was made into a movie a few years ago. No one ever gave me a good reason to read the popular book or watch the movie, but her follow up book about marriage intrigued me. In there, she views a pre nup as a means of insuring that you treat each other with respect if things go really bad. That is, you create the document together when you are at a high point in your relationship as a kind of insurance against making the low point even worse.
I think that was "Committed" by Elizabeth Gilbert.
michaeljc70
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by michaeljc70 »

I would have a prenup.

Another thing I would consider is a legal agreement regarding the home. I have a family member that bought a house with his fiance. They broke up before marrying. Now they live together, she doesn't pay half the bills, she lost her job for a while, won't agree to sell, etc. and it is a mess.
Vanguard Fan 1367
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 »

michaeljc70 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:59 am I would have a prenup.

Another thing I would consider is a legal agreement regarding the home. I have a family member that bought a house with his fiance. They broke up before marrying. Now they live together, she doesn't pay half the bills, she lost her job for a while, won't agree to sell, etc. and it is a mess.
Sort of a War of the Roses story? No friendly touching?
Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
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timboktoo
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by timboktoo »

Marriage amplifies what you're already experiencing in your relationship, both the good and the bad. Marriage provides you both with opportunities to work through smallness of your character - to become better people. That can go well if you're both ready for that, or it can go very badly if you're not.

My wife and I have all of our assets commingled. We live on a budget. We communicate about the direction we want to go in together and take care of one another's needs. Additionally, we are each allocated a good amount of personal spending money per paycheck which can be used for anything we fancy. That personal spending budget prevents us from judging one another's purchases and it gives us a limit on what we can spend without agreeing.

Commingling like this takes excellent communication and understanding. That communication brings us closer together. Overcoming the issues related to commingling takes effort. But, when it's done well, that effort bears fruit.

My net worth is not as high as yours, but I was in a similar situation. We married at age 35. I had done well for myself financially and had been responsibly building wealth for more than a decade. My wife, on the other hand, had a negative net worth and did not enjoy discussions about money. She was not aware of her financial position at the time. She wasn't sure how much she owed and she had no plan for paying off her debt. She lived paycheck to paycheck.

I knew early on that I would have to convey just how important financial responsibility was to me and that I would need to be with someone who demonstrated some degree of that responsibility as well. We communicated heavily on this subject. It took a great deal of time for me to get to the point where I trusted her with the entirety of my life.

Marriage is risky, but risk and reward are partners. My wife and I were raised in a way that makes commingling work well for us. You and yours will need to figure out what works best for you.

I would set aside a day to talk about this together. You can use that conversation to steer your next decision.

Gather her information together on that day. Do not cast even the slightest bit of judgement. Do more listening than talking. Exercise understanding. Keep your mind focused on the fact that most people do not accomplish much financially. Bogleheads are the weird ones.

You both have different strengths. Keep her strengths in mind as you speak together about money. Money is a very sensitive subject because our actions with money reveal a lot about our character. Money discussions always need to happen in an environment that's safe.

I wish you the best of luck.

Peace

- Tim
michaeljc70
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by michaeljc70 »

Vanguard Fan 1367 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:19 pm
michaeljc70 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:59 am I would have a prenup.

Another thing I would consider is a legal agreement regarding the home. I have a family member that bought a house with his fiance. They broke up before marrying. Now they live together, she doesn't pay half the bills, she lost her job for a while, won't agree to sell, etc. and it is a mess.
Sort of a War of the Roses story? No friendly touching?
This family member is a pushover making it worse for him. Also, he put down more money than she did and the house was underwater for a long time (not sure if it still is). She also refused to refinance their 6.5% mortgage so they are paying way more interest than they should be. If she does walk away he cannot afford the house on his own. Complete disaster.
3funder
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by 3funder »

mptfan wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:52 am
JoeyJoeJoe wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:05 pmMy primary concern with my partner is her relationship with money. She's been reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me, including her spending habits, and that gives me pause.
I would not marry someone if I was concerned about her relationship with money and she was reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me.
+1
Global stocks, US bonds, and time.
chevca
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by chevca »

3funder wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:54 pm
mptfan wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:52 am
JoeyJoeJoe wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:05 pmMy primary concern with my partner is her relationship with money. She's been reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me, including her spending habits, and that gives me pause.
I would not marry someone if I was concerned about her relationship with money and she was reluctant to lay out all of her finances to me.
+1
Nor, would I buy a house together with that person.

Hopefully, the OP considers the posts and replies carefully before jointly buying house... let alone marriage.
Startingover2019
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by Startingover2019 »

michaeljc70 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:22 pm
Vanguard Fan 1367 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:19 pm
michaeljc70 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:59 am I would have a prenup.

Another thing I would consider is a legal agreement regarding the home. I have a family member that bought a house with his fiance. They broke up before marrying. Now they live together, she doesn't pay half the bills, she lost her job for a while, won't agree to sell, etc. and it is a mess.
Sort of a War of the Roses story? No friendly touching?
This family member is a pushover making it worse for him. Also, he put down more money than she did and the house was underwater for a long time (not sure if it still is). She also refused to refinance their 6.5% mortgage so they are paying way more interest than they should be. If she does walk away he cannot afford the house on his own. Complete disaster.
He needs to take her to court. He can’t live like this forever. Document every conversation or record of legal and take it to court. That’s BS.
GR8FUL-D
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by GR8FUL-D »

JoeyJoeJoe wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:05 pm
We are currently renting separately with intention of moving in together to increase savings rate for home purchase in the Richmond, VA area. (Currently live in MA).
Hey Joe,

Your situation clearly calls for a pre-nup, both due to your age, significant disparity in finances between you and your girlfriend, plus the fact that she has a child. Boulderboys's suggestion that you consult with a matrimonial attorney or family law attorney in a multi-attorney law firm is EXCELLENT advice.

Experts say that money/finances are one of the top 3 causes of divorce, and your girlfriends reluctance to openly discuss her finances with you is cause for concern. Maybe it's because she's embarrassed that you've accumulated more than she has, but there might be other reasons as well. Before marrying her please be 1,000% certain she has no outstanding debt as she's (evidently) claimed.

Other peoples opinion regarding when & under what conditions two people should marry are irrelevant--if YOU want to get married than so be it, but I hope it's because you really and truly want to be married to this person, not just because you "think it's a good idea". Regardless, assuming you don't have any religious or moral convictions against it, imo it would be wise for the two of you to rent a place & live together for one year before getting married. Dating &/or spending the night at one another's house a couple of times a week is a lot different than living together 24/7.
H-Town
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Re: to pre-nup or not?

Post by H-Town »

JoeyJoeJoe wrote: Sun Jan 19, 2020 5:05 pm Questions:
  • Do we get married first, in Massachusetts? Then purchase the home in Richmond?
  • Or get married in Richmond as we are looking to move there anyway?
  • Is a pre-nup advisable, here? I'm getting a bit old to recover from losing half of my assets in case things go south.
  • Are my tax-exempt savings hers too once we get hitched up? I'm assuming yes so sorry about the naive question.
1) Why do you have to get married? Is it something that you both really want? Or it's just because of social norms? I've seen a few couples in your age and similar financial situations. They decide not to get married.

2) Pre-nup is a MUST in your situation. She has a kid. You have more pre-marital assets.

3) In community property states, yes. As always, check with your lawyer.
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