Q: I live in California and plan on getting married. However my boyfriend wants me to sign a pre-nup. At the present time we’re also looking into buying a home.

His credit is awful while mine is very high. We have both signed the loan papers for a pre approved bank loan but now I’m having doubts about going through with the purchase. He obviously makes more money than I do and if he decides to leave me I don’t want to be stuck with a high mortgage I can’t afford.

Is it better to take my name off the loan and still be on the title? Or should I just remove myself entirely?

A: In general, prenuptial agreements come into play when one person has a lot more assets (money, stocks, real estate, jewelry, etc.) than the person he or she is marrying. You have to decide first if you want to sign an agreement that will decide now how to divide all of the assets you accumulate together after your marriage.

I’m not opposed to prenuptial agreements, and in fact I think they can be very helpful, particularly in the case of a second marriage where each person has his or her own children. I do think you should consult with an attorney who can advise you on whether the agreement protects you as well as your fiance.

Whether or not you eventually marry, you should be cautious about buying property as an unmarried partner (which is what you are now) unless you have created a legal partnership that governs the financial aspects of the purchase.

This partnership agreement will describe what each of you is bringing to the table, and lay out the financial workings of the relationship, including what expenses each of you are responsible for, and what share of the equity each of you will be entitled to in case the partnership doesn’t work out. A real estate or family planning attorney can draft a partnership agreement for you, and I strongly recommend you execute this sort of agreement before you go ahead with the purchase.

If you and your fiance do ultimately decide to get married, your partnership agreement can contain a clause that specifies what will happen to the property and your financial relationship.

Because you live in California, you may have some extra protections if you and your boyfriend live together for a certain number of years. Your first move is to sit down with an attorney who can go through the pre-nup, and help make sure that you’re protected down the line.

May 2, 2008.