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The Moneyist: I'm 41. My fiance is 61. I'm value $ 1.three million. It's value $ 250,000. He gained't marry if I insist on a prenup. How can I shield my property?

Dear Moneyist,

I am 41 years old and my fiance is 61 years old. I'm worth $ 1.3 million. I have 1.1 million cash in my business and $ 200,000 for my equity and personal checks. My career is booming. In 2015, I made $ 70,000, and this year I've made $ 550,000 so far. I have 4 teenagers and they will be going to college soon by 2021.

He is 61 years old and is valued at $ 250,000 including his retirement. He will move with us as soon as we are married. I struggled so much financially before I found my niche and now I worry about what would happen if that marriage failed.

The money is: He doesn't give me any money. My husband made secret payments to his parents. Should I tell him to stop?

I asked him for a marriage agreement, but he turned down the idea. He said our marriage will be forever. He said he won't marry me if I insist. I'm madly in love with him. Am I walking towards marriage with my eyes closed? We live in a jointly owned state.

How can I protect my assets without a marriage contract?

Yours,

Torn between love or marriage agreement

Dear torn one,

Your fiance is a lucky man.

He is 20 years older than you and in a relationship with a woman who has obviously created a successful and secure life for herself. You have other financial and family responsibilities as well. I'm sorry your fiance doesn't seem to appreciate this. Your age, assets, and children are reasons you both need to sign a marriage agreement, not a reason.

Would you partner with a company if you faced the owner head over heels even if you had to think about the future of your employees? I doubt it. It's not that different here. Marriage is a contract, and it is not wise to sign one without being 100% comfortable with it. If your stomach says you should have a prenup, join in. Trust yourself.

There are detours to protect your assets when you get married without a prenup, including an irrevocable trust. They are usually used by very wealthy individuals to protect their assets, but not always successfully. Divorce courts increasingly have discretion in how to deal with divorce.

The money is: My fiancé wants me to quit my comfortable six figure job to work for his landscaping company. Should I ask him to pay me a salary?

Standard methods of protecting your assets in a jointly owned state are to keep your premarital property segregated and carefully, possibly exhaustively, to prevent assets from being mixed up. Maintain the value of your business and retirement accounts before marriage and define clearly separate and common accounts.

In a jointly owned state, you take out of the marriage what you brought into the marriage. However, if you use marriage funds to improve your home or pay the mortgage, that asset will be mixed up and converted from separate into marital property. Given that a marriage agreement would solve this, it seems like a lot of fuss and nonsense to get your way.

Divorce is an ugly, everyday, and expensive business. If the marriage is eternal, your fiancé doesn't have to worry about getting back to his more humble lifestyle – and he should sign it. When the marriage is temporary, he has more to worry about. Either way, your fiancé's logic makes no sense to me. I am not buying it.

You can email The Moneyist at qfottrell@marketwatch.com with financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus

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