If you are planning to marry soon, you need to first examine your estate plan carefully before final agreement.
To ensure your interests are fully protected, be sure to:
Planning Before Marriage
Make a plan for your assets. You and your future spouse need to decide where your assets will go when one of you dies. Children from a previous marriage can complicate estate plans, because you have no guarantee that if you die first, your spouse will provide for your children. You can create a trust or purchase a life insurance policy to take care of children, or even provide them with joint ownership of property.
Inventory All Assets
Both you and your soon-to-be spouse need to make a list of your assets and debts and share it with each other. This includes retirement plans, investments, business, and life insurance policies.
Inventory All Debts
Both you and your new spouse could eliminate your credit worthiness by merging problems with a clean credit history. Child support requirements, student loans, credit card debt, medical bills, taxes, or a lawsuit are all serious concerns. Do NOT consider credit card limits and credit lines to be "assets". This includes history of bankruptcy, tax audits, loans, mortgages, investments, business, pending taxes, loans against life insurance policies, personal notes.
Credit Reports and Debt Sharing
To combine or not to combine? Decide with your partner whether or not you want to combine assets once you marry or keep them separate. You eliminate two separate credit reports and obligate each other to all debts if you combine bank accounts, ownership titles, vehicle loans, credit card applications, or tax returns. Even if you are using another relative to hold assets or make banking easier, you are creating a merged financial report. For instance, keeping your money or the title to your house in your moms' name could cause BOTH of you to have assets seized for a tax bill. Worse yet, health costs or a death could cause all of the assets to be controlled and distributed by the courts. Do NOT use relatives to keep your name off of ownership records.
Consult with an Estate Planner
If either of you have children from previous marriages, consulting with an estate planner is a must. Even if you do not have significant assets, you will need to update your will, powers of attorney, health care proxy designations, and more. An estate planner can also help you figure out how to use trusts for protecting assets for the children.
You will probably want to change beneficiaries because of new relationships, retirement, health considerations, school costs, and gradual changes of children into maturity.
Consider a Prenuptial Agreement
Then... Don't approach marriage with a Prenuptial Agreement. Even though there are many situations when one spouse brings significantly more assets to the marriage, a prenuptial agreement creates suspicion and can be hurtful to your relationship. A better solution would be to protect assets in an Asset Protection Trust.
A Prenuptial Asset Protection Trust
Such an arrangement does NOT require permission, signatures, negotiations, or even disclosures to the future spouse. If you created an Asset Protection Trust in advance of a committed relationship, you would retain total control of trustees (yourself) and beneficiaries (you and the future spouse). If the relationship endures, things stay the same, or you modify beneficiaries to include children. If it ends, you simply remove the spouse from the list of beneficiaries.
This solution would protect and separate those assets from the arguments and control of courts if divorce occurs. Note that any assets bought or supported by joint efforts would be subject to divorce court, so be sure to maintain separation in all aspects of the assets.