Dear Quentin,

I am in a second marriage later in life. My second husband, who has far fewer assets than I do, pays me $1,200 a month to go toward our living expenses. He moved into my condo when we got married. I have made it clear that this money does not go toward paying the mortgage on this home, which I purchased before we got married. The house is in my name only.

I save the money he gives me and use it for our yearly vacations, which cost more than what he gives me in a year. I buy most of our groceries and pay for most of our meals. The money he gives me is deposited electronically into my checking account. I often transfer the funds right away to my savings account, as I pay my mortgage directly from my savings account.  

Have I avoided commingling our funds with regard to payments made toward the mortgage by first transferring the money to a different account before making a payment on the mortgage?  We do not have any joint bank accounts. 

Older And (Trying To Be) Wiser

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear Older/Wiser,

Thus far, it appears you have been doing a diligent job keeping your respective assets separate, but your desire to ensure this property is not commingled also sounds like a persistent source of anxiety for you, which does not bode well for a stress-free or happy marriage. 

Sometimes, people go to extreme lengths to ensure their property remains separate. This man created a trust two months before his marriage without his partner’s knowledge. Upon their divorce, his wife wondered whether she was entitled to any of it.

The best way to protect your home and ensure it remains separate from your marital assets is by signing a prenuptial agreement to that effect. Failing that, you can ask your husband to sign a postnuptial agreement to avoid any confusion, misunderstandings or mistakes later on. 

In the meantime, ensure you have a solid record of all your finances. “General ledgers for both separate and community property accounts will provide the fundamental record-keeping necessary to maintain the viability of the system,” according to Walzer & Melcher, a California-based law firm.

“Strict integrity between community and separate accounts should be maintained,” the law firm adds. “Make every effort to keep deposits straight: put community earnings in community property accounts, separate earnings in separate property accounts.”

Remember, if your husband contributed to the upkeep of your home — say, a new kitchen or floors — you could risk commingling your assets and your home. Any funds used for renovations should not come from a joint bank account. Keep a record of all bank transfers and payments.

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