I have dated my wife to be for three years, and have been engaged to her for just over a year. We are both 31 years old.
After we got engaged, my fiancée told me her sister won the lottery four years ago and shared it with her, I had no idea, she and her sister do not live like they are millionaires, but her bank account balance says so. In fact she has maintained a regular job and life style all this time, her investment she kept on the low low.
She asked me if I had a problem signing a prenup, I said yes, I’m marrying her because I love her, and didn’t know about any money.
It has made me ask “do i really know her?” because if she could keep a secret this big from me, then what else is she capable of hiding…but I know I’m being irrational with these doubts.
My question to you is this – do you think she is right to ask me to sign a prenup? Like I said I will and have no issue about doing it. I don’t see a divorce in our future, but I guess neither do most people that get married.
If roles were reversed, and I was the millionaire, and I asked her to sign a prenup, would your answer be the same?
Marrying a Millionaire
Luckily I worked as a paralegal in the past at several big San Francisco law firms, and have a bit of familiarity with this issue (though I would never represent this advice response as legal advice).
As you know, California is one of the few community property states – where assets acquired during a marriage are divided 50/50 between a couple should they split. However, assets that one has before marrying — real property owned as a single, investments made as a single, boats cars antiques and collections owned as a single — remain legally one’s separate property.
And therein lies the key.
The gift of $1 million from her sister, which took place before she married you (and possibly even met you!), would remain her sole and separate property, along with any inheritance she might receive at the time of a relative’s death. Actually, this would be the case even if you were married; as a spouse you would have no legal claim to that “gift” from her sister.
However, things purchased with her salary, tax returns, bonuses, lottery winnings, etc., as well as the cash itself would be considered community property, and half would rightly belong to you.
The issue I think she is concerned about falls under the umbrella “commingling of assets.”
See, let’s say she took out $50,000 from her lottery account and you two used it to buy a nice home with the hopes of raising a family in it. Now that home would be considered community property even though all of HER money was used for the initial purchase obligations. It would be logical for us to assume that at some point in the future, you would use some of your salary for home repairs, home improvements, to help pay property taxes, etc. Since you would have both contributed financially to the home, it would be considered community property, and should you split up, that asset would be sold and the proceeds split 50/50.
Another concern would be dividends, stock options, interest and other earnings on her money. If she buys stock with some of her million after you two are married, would those investments be considered community property or her separate property? Things can get interestingly dodgy.
My first suggestion is that you empathize and understand that she kept this secret so she could be sure that you really loved her for who she is, and not for her money. Wealthy men do it all the time – there was even a television show about Princes posing as regular working stiffs to find a wife.
My second suggestion is that the two of you consult with an attorney before saying “I DO!” about the fine details of the law on these matters. Get full and complete legal advice as the law is applied in 2015 so that both of you will feel at peace about moving forward.