Q: I have owned my home by myself since 1976. In 1989, I married. My name is still on the deed and we have a pre-nuptial agreement that the house is mine.

Is there a law that states that regardless of the pre-nuptial agreement, my spouse will inherit part of my house? Is there any way to get around this?

A: I don’t know why your spouse would inherit part of your house if the house was purchased before your marriage and you owned it and financed it on your own.

However, if your spouse paid for expenses relating to the home such as repairs, improvements and even the monthly mortgage and real estate taxes, your spouse might have a claim to the home. If you want to keep a property separate from marital assets, all expenses incurred in owning and maintaining that other asset have to come from your separate assets.

But the answer to your question will depend on the laws of the state in which you live.

Please talk to a local estate attorney or estate planning attorney about your issue to determine whether your spouse has a right or not to your home and how to work make sure you understand the issues and any resolution that may be required.

After talking to an estate planner, you might want to consider setting up a living trust and having the home owned by the living trust. You would then be able to name the beneficiary of the trust. Another benefit is that the title would automatically pass to your named beneficiary and the property would bypass probate.

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