I also have $50,000 from an inheritance I would like protected. Along with small 401k and IRA 's.
If you place your condo in an irrevocable trust, retaining a life estate only and naming someone else as trustee, this might afford some protection.
Dont get married
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Generally speaking, a prenup is the best way to go. If your finance won't sign one, then that is a clear signal that they are not willing to give up potential rights to the condo and inheritance.
You can make the choice about what to do next. As others note: if you don't like the risk, you don't have to get married.
You will be happy to hear, though, that rights to the marital property tend to relate to the length of the marriage. If two adults get divorced after a year of marriage, most judges are relatively likely to try to return the parties to their pre-marriage situation. The longer the marriage, the less that happens. And if you have kids or support, all bets are off.
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If you transfer ownership of the condo (or other property) to a third party to hold on your behalf, such as a family member, you create the possibility that the family member will take advantage of you - instead of your future ex-wife. Moreover, transferring ownership "on paper" while retaining control over the property creates the risk that a judge presiding over a future divorce will simply look past the transfer and regard the property as a marital asset.
The only real protection is a prenuptial agreement (and even a prenup may be invalidated on the grounds that it is not "fair and reasonable" in MA, particularly following a long-term marriage). Still, as Attorney Hammarlund points out, MA courts often seek to return the parties' to their premarital financial positions following short-term marriage (<3 years), but once you have been married three years (give or take), this protection begins to fade, with all property eventually going "in the pot".
I am not quite ready to endorse Attorney Lebensbaum's recommendation ("Don't get married") as your only option, although it would certainly work. Instead, if you are determined to be married while protecting your premarital assets, just move to Rhode Island. Under R.I.G.L 15-5-16.1, a "court may not assign property or an interest in property held in the name of one of the parties if the property was held by the party prior to the marriage ..." (Rhode Island also ends child support at age 18, without exception.)
Similar laws regarding premarital property exist in the so-called so-called "community property" states (California, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Washington, and Wisconsin). Meanwhile, other states, like Florida, allow for the division of premarital property in a divorce, but use a statutory presumption against dividing premarital property absent a showing of injustice or special need by the party seeking division. All things being equal, Massachusetts is probably among bottom third of states in terms of offering protection for premarital assets in a divorce. New Hampshire is similar to Massachusetts in its treatment of premarital assets.
The representations made herein are for informational purposes only, and are expressly not legal advice. Please consult a legal professional to resolve your legal issue.
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