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Wealthy widow needs a prenup

Published: Saturday, May 31, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

Dear Dave,

My husband died several years ago. He always worked very hard, and we did very well financially. I am now 48 and have $3.8 million in assets. I’ve found a wonderful man who is very stable and loving with a good job, and we’re considering getting married. Do you think I need a prenuptial agreement?

– Heather

Dear Heather,

For years I told people never to do prenuptial agreements. I always said if you love your money more than you love your spouse, then you’re too immature and selfish to be married.

However, I’ve changed my tune on this subject a little bit recently. When one or two wealthy people get married, the problems that can arise usually have nothing to do with those two people. The problem is that it can invite a lot of crazy into your lives from the outside. Whether it’s a parent, cousin or child, sometimes people start feeling a sense of entitlement when wealth is suddenly thrust into the picture.

You both sound like mature, functional people with good values. In most cases, that’s a pretty good indication that crazy isn’t in the immediate vicinity. Still, there’s a lot on the line. So while I would advise a prenup, you might keep an open mind to revisions somewhere down the road. Make it pretty solid and protective for the first five or 10 years. But then, after you guys have built a life together, you’ll hopefully reach a point where you’ll feel safe looking at it as all ours.

So, the only reason I’d ever suggest a prenup is when two parties are bringing really unequal amounts to the table. Yours is an extreme situation, Heather, so I’d give it some serious thought. Let him know you want to do this to protect the relationship, so that there’s never any hint that the money is a problem or will create problems. If he’s as kind and thoughtful as you say, I think he’ll understand.

– Dave

AAA or self-insure?

Dear Dave,

What do you think about auto club memberships like AAA?

– Jeremy

Dear Jeremy,

I’ve got nothing against AAA. But honestly, I tend to self-insure through savings for these kinds of things. I’ve probably used, or had need of, a tow truck twice in the last 20 years. When it comes to this kind of product, I always look at it from the perspective of, “Where does it leave me if I don’t sign up for their service?”

Again, I don’t think AAA is a big rip-off or anything like that. It’s just a type of insurance, if you will, for which I have no need. I guess it could be a handy thing to have if you were in a situation where you were using their services a lot. But if their average customer were like that, they’d probably end up losing money on you.

– Dave

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