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How to get the guarantee of a prenuptial without even signing one

Married couples are constantly bombarded by the grim statistics of marriage just about everyday.  With half of married couples expected to divorce within the first eight years of saying 'I do,' it's hard to ignore the fact that you may have to go through the dreaded divorce process at some point in your life.

The change in society to be firmly established in a career before marriage can also run some couples into another problem.  Phrased in the form of the famous Hamlet speech, we ask our high asset couples one important question: prenup or not a prenup?

While prenuptial agreements are incredibly good at protecting your assets during ugly property divisions, sometimes it's not that easy to persuade your spouse of the same thing.  So how do you make sure your assets are protected if you don't have this important document?  As some financial advisors will tell you: look into self-settled trusts.

Like a prenup, self-settled trusts keep a portion of your earnings separate from your spouse's.  But unlike a prenup, self-settled trusts also protect your assets from creditors too.  And because you were the one who established the trust, you are also the beneficiary as well.

It's important to talk to a financial advisor or someone knowledgeable in estate planning matters though before establishing a trust because of the complexities of the law.  Since 1997, 13 states have modified their trust laws.  Some require a person to establish a self-settled trust prior to getting married while others allow a person to create one at anytime.  Failing to follow subtle state laws could end in your asset plan backfiring, with your spouse walking away with a portion of what you were trying to save in the first place.

Source: The Barron's Penta, "Divorce Trusts," Tatiana Serafin, May 18, 2013