My ‘shifty’ husband holds our $3.5 million real estate in his name only. I don’t want to be kicked out if he dies

Dear Quinten,

My second husband and I bought a large property and developed it into a successful restaurant and campsite.

All real estate, and virtually everything we own, is in the company’s name. His name is the only one on the corporate property.

We both signed an IOU and I asked to put my name on the title deed or company.

“He wants me to sign another note to make improvements.”

He never did. Now he wants me to sign another note to make improvements. I said no and I maintain that I need protection if he were to die suddenly (we push 60).

What if he decides to divorce me? How am I protected? He tells me that everything is fine and that those problems will never be a problem for me.

We both have children from previous marriages. We all get along, but this asset is very valuable (estimated to be worth $3.5 million with only $200,000 in debt).

We also live on the property. I don’t want to be kicked out if he dies.

Wife of Shifty Husband

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Dear wife,

It is controlling behavior and you are right to remain firm. Don’t sign another promissory note until your name is on the title deed and the corporation. You should also ask to see the bills. Your finances are at stake if this business goes bankrupt, along with your husband’s. He currently has full control over the cash flow. You run half the risk, without any input.

Just dividing states divide marital property fairly and community property states divide marital property 50/50. To answer your question, this company was founded during your marriage and with marital funds. In the event that you divorced, especially because you took out loans, a judge would consider you an equal owner.

Your husband has already given you reason not to trust his financial management. The National Endowment for Financial Education conducted a 2018 survey of so-called financial infidelity and found that more than 40% of American adults who combine finances with a spouse or spouse admitted to committing “financial cheating” against their husbands or wives.

“Far too often, one spouse resorts to underhanded tactics to hide money or assets from the other—secretly stashing money, emptying bank accounts, returning property to relatives, underestimating income, and overestimating expenses—usually in an attempt to defraud the other a legal portion of the assets or to minimize the amount of aid payable, or both,” it adds.

Consult a lawyer now and don’t wait for your husband to give you more excuses. Since this is the second marriage for both of you, I think your husband is planning to leave this business to his children. He can only leave that part of this business that belongs to him to his own children. As a stakeholder it is important that you know the books through and through.

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