Debt and home and 2nd Marriage

Debt and home and 2nd Marriage

I have remarried and have brought pre marriage $50,000 of credit card debt in. My husband will not put me onto the house deed yet for fear of something happening to me and losing the house over my debt. I am pursuing a term life policy for both of us. We have no will. Is he correct?


There are a couple of questions above. Lets do each, starting in reverse order. If you don't have wills, hire a lawyer and get some. The sample documents in the estate planning section of this website will help you get started. And, don't stop with wills you both really should have powers of attorney (naming someone to take financial actions on your behalf if you cannot) and living wills and health care proxies (addressing medical decision making). Start with the sample forms then see a lawyer in your state who specializes in estate planning. If you have children (one or both of you) from prior marraiges (you only mention that you remarried and not whether either of you has children) these issues need to be dealt with in all of your estate planning documents (see also comments below).

As for term insurance, sounds like a safe bet but a couple of points. You really should put together some type of financial plan to see how much coverage each of you really need What are your goals? Replace income if something happens to one of you? Pay off your debt? Provide for kids (you didn't say)? There are also lots of options, even with term. What type of policy 1 year, 10 year or longer renewable (the longer you guarantee renewability the safer the coverage but the more costly). Should you get a conversion feature so that if you have health problems in the future you can change the term policy to permanent coverage without a medical exam? Lots of issues to do it right.

As for the debt, much will depend on the laws in your state (we cannot address state specific issues - only general advice). It might have been beneficial to have a pre-nuptial agreement stating you would remain solely liable for the pre-marital debt. It might be advantageous to have a post-nuptial agreement stating this. If you had debt and no assets it might have been advisable for you to negotiate a settlement prior to marriage, but you really have to speak with a bankruptcy attorney in your state to see if there is much that can be done now. If you have no assets, your husband's concerns sound reasonable -- why add you to a deed that might jeapardize what might be his biggest assets. Perhaps the best approach is to consult a financial planner and get a budget in place to get you on the road to financial health so that your husband can feel secure in putting you on the deed. Not wanting to rock the boat, but is that the only issue? Does he have children from a prior marriage he wants the house to go to? If there are other issues, putting them on the table will enable you, and an adviser, to deal with them.

My book "The Beneficiary Workbook" published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (you might be able to get a used copy from as its now out of print) has a really easy chapter on walking you through putting together a budget. There might also be some great resources in your area from non-profit groups that help people get out of debt. But be really careful, there are lots of sham deals out there to (if it sounds to good to be true, its probably not real). You might also be able to call the companies you owe and work out a payment plan. Good luck.

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