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How to protect assets from divorce

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People in Michigan who are getting married might be able to protect their assets without creating a prenuptial agreement. This does not just protect people in case of divorce. It can also protect a person from being held responsible for a spouse's debts.

First, after getting married, people should keep their own accounts and open a separate joint account for any shared financial activity. People who own property should keep it in their own names. Any work done on property that is owned by one person and that raises the value of the property should be paid for from that person's individual account and not the joint account. Keeping records of this work and any other financial transactions is also critical. It will allow individual assets to be clearly identified as such as needed. Inheritances should be kept in individual accounts so they are not treated as marital property.

The appreciation of a property during the marriage may be considered a marital asset. Therefore, people may want to have property appraised just before the wedding to use as a baseline for assessing appreciation later if necessary. A person may also want to look into the possibilities offered by a revocable trust. Placing assets under the management of a third party will prevent those assets being considered shared property.

If the couple does go through a divorce, these precautions might make the process of property division less complex. It may be possible for both spouses to negotiate an agreement. However, this requires cooperation on the part of both spouses. One spouse might challenge the claims of another. Even a formal prenuptial agreement might be challenged on the grounds that a person was coerced into the agreement and did not receive sufficient legal counsel. If property division must be decided by a judge after litigation, the couple will have less control over the outcome.

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