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My question is around the safety of my brother's investment (Washington State, USA) if shit hits the fan and his marriage falls apart. He is planning to buy a property now (huge investment) but our family has divided opinions upon whether to wait for his marriage (within 2 years) or to invest all his money right now.

Are there any consequences if -

he buys later (with his wife, in 50/50 contribution where the property might be smaller, but risk and ownership divided)

vs.

He buys now (when he puts all his money in, risking everything from his pocket, but doesn't know if his future wife may take half from him if things go sideways)

The biggest concern my family has is - he might lose all his savings in a divorce if he invests now risking everything from his pocket.. Is it true and is this how it works ?

We are concerned and want to be careful. Thank you for the help

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    Do you and your family have specific reasons to expect divorce to be likely? Or is it entirely hypothetical? – yoozer8 Sep 1 '20 at 12:15
  • Can Brother get a prenuptual agreement? – Fattie Sep 1 '20 at 16:26
  • Is your brother asking for this advice? i.e. is "he" concerned or just his good-intentioned family? – JTP - Apologise to Monica Sep 1 '20 at 17:10
  • we have some doubts on the strength, and he refused to get pre-nup signed thinking it makes his relationship weak. No, the brother is not asking, its just his good-intentioned family asking. – stack_r Sep 2 '20 at 6:55
  • It's more likely a prenuptial agreement can expose a weakness in the relationship, not create one. Has he discussed this with his future wife? – chepner Sep 2 '20 at 12:33
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Your concern is that someone ("an ex wife") may take some of Brother's assets.

Unfortunately, if Brother has

  • cash money in the bank

  • owns real estate

  • owns stocks and bonds

  • has valuables such as gemstones

  • has everyday items such as cars, boats

No matter what "mix of stuff" Brother has, as assets, those assets can be chased by another party (example, "an ex wife").

The other party can "go after it" regardless.

For better or worse (get it?) it makes no difference what form the assets are in.

In short. Say Brother has one million dollars in the bank. Nobody owns a house and no house is ever bought, they just rent. There's a divorce. Then, ex-wife gets half of the million bucks. (Obviously, depending on local laws, etc ... but that's the answer to the spirit of your question.)

It's no "safer" in the sense of the question to put money in to a house or not.

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  • The only real difference would be that it's "easier" to give the ex $500k in cash then it is to go through the paperwork to resolve a 50/50 owned house. But, good answer! – Nosjack Sep 1 '20 at 16:37
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    @nosjack I think the concern is not that the ex-wife gets half the house, but whether she contributes to the purchase of the house initially or not. I'm reading the second case as the wife paying for half the house up front, so that in the event of the divorce the OP's brother hasn't really lost anything. – chepner Sep 1 '20 at 18:08
  • @chepner - yes. thats what our family wants. If the wife pays half, she is righfully entitled to half of the investment. We have no problem with that. Our concern only arises if she hasn't paid anything upfront but claims half of it after divorce. – stack_r Sep 2 '20 at 6:57
  • @Fattie is there a way without a prenup, to avoid auto-entitlement if she does not contribute initially to its purchase ? I google 'community laws' and it seems if its purchased before marriage as separate property, and mortgage is never paid from her account then it still can be saved as separate property in case of a fallout (divorce).. is that information accurate ? – stack_r Sep 2 '20 at 6:59
  • @chepner - that would seem to be correct, BUT, in that case the Ex-Wife will simply get those USDollars from the bank account .. I guess. It's a wash? – Fattie Sep 2 '20 at 12:02

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