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I'm getting married soon, and I am fortunate enough to have a career where I can be a sole breadwinner. I want to offer that to my fiancee, but she has not previously lived in a situation where this could happen, and I want to objectively signify to her that I am not intending to create a situation where I have all control over the finances and she doesn't have the power to live her own life, much less leave.

A strong way to do that would be to ensure that she has independent financial instruments that only she controls, including a nest egg that she could use to escape and seek help if she needed. Bank accounts in her name work well in day-to-day situations or in the event of my death or incapacitation, but I know that if I was secretly abusive or manipulative, or some future event caused me to become abusive (e.g. a traumatic brain injury, or developing a drug addiction), my rogue self would know that she has this money and try to coerce it out of her.

Is there a financial instrument that she can set up that would still give her at least emergency access to the money, but would be very difficult for me to coerce out of her?

For instance, is is something that a joint account, or a collection of joint accounts, would be useful for (i.e. accounts that she opens with family and friends and require both her and their approval for withdrawal, such that I'd have to try to coerce all of them too)?

As another idea, is there some account we could open and then trap, such that withdrawing money alerts personnel that would then come to help her the situation that is leading to the money being withdrawn (such as a women's shelter, the police, or her lawyer)?


ADDENDUM: I eventually brought this to my fiancee, and she turned the offer down, though is allowing me to fully pay for groceries and rent.

I am still interested in this question, though, because it could also be answered from a variety of other perspectives. For instance, suppose I have a friend (let's call her Sarah) getting married to someone (let's call them Avery), and Avery is offering sole providership to Sarah. Sarah is head over heels for Avery, and I like them too, but I'm more cautious, and want to work with Sarah (and likely Avery too, if doing so doesn't spoil plans) on setting up a nest egg she can use if things go wrong.

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    Is your fiancee incapable of making her own decisions? If so, there are lawyers and authorities who'd be involved. In any case, this is a question for a family attorney in your jurisdiction, not a financial literacy forum.
    – littleadv
    Sep 10, 2023 at 7:21
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    If you become coercive, she can probably go to a women's shelter, the police, or her lawyer without needing a trapped account. And if you could set up a trapped account, wouldn't you just coerce her into taking the money from somewhere that didn't trigger the trap? Seriously, you're creating a hypothetical here where you will become not only insane but stupid, and the two aren't always connected.
    – keshlam
    Sep 10, 2023 at 9:30
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    Naive question: why not just give her the money now? Sure, future evil you could try and get it back, but isn't that also true of any investment vehicle you might use?
    – JayFor
    Sep 10, 2023 at 11:18
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    It’s probably necessary to know which country (and possibly state) we are taking about, and possibly also the kind of amount you are thinking of. It may be useful to understand both of your backgrounds (possibly country of origin/ethnic/religious) and especially differences in such, as while your question may appear completely out of this world in some locales, it would (sadly) be a very logical thing in others if you want to get out of the traditional relationship between men and women in that locale.
    – jcaron
    Sep 10, 2023 at 20:18
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    Have you asked your spouse about what would make them comfortable? I think that matters one unprintable lot more than our opinions.
    – keshlam
    Sep 10, 2023 at 20:22

1 Answer 1

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Dual-signature bank accounts do exist. They are mostly used by clubs, charities and the like, to stop one person running off with all the money.

If the pot of money is large enough, trust funds are another possibility. The money is looked after by a trustee who decides when it is appropriate to hand out the money. The trustee may choose not to if it is not in the best interests of the person who the money is being held for.

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