Love & Money

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Love & Money: Protecting Yourself from Angry Exes, Wacky Relatives, Con Artists, and Inner Demons.

It is no secret that we are living in an increasingly litigious society. What may come as a surprise, though, is that we are far more likely to be involved in a costly legal dispute with a former loved one than we are with a stranger. In Love and Money, Ann-Margaret Carrozza will help you to easily understand and implement essential legal strategies to prevent you from doing legal battle with someone you once shared Thanksgiving dinner (or a pillow) with.


Relationships with loved ones can dramatically impact our financial security. Our level of financial security, in turn, can profoundly alter the course of romantic and other relationships. The many intersections of love and wealth can produce explosive and potentially devastating legal consequences. Examining the effects of personal relationship fallouts on one’s wealth has been largely uncharted territory in the realm of personal finance. Ignorance about the legal consequences of troubled relationships with loved ones, however, is the single biggest threat to one’s wealth. Broken hearts can be very expensive. We know that a contentious breakup can reduce our assets by half—not to mention the legal fees. Happy relationships can also cost us. This is because all relationships will eventually end. Our weakened state, in the wake of a loved one’s death, can leave us vulnerable to con artists, greedy relatives, and inadvisable legal dealings.

What good is building up a nest egg if failed relationships and ill-advised legal dealings can wipe us out? The average American is far more likely to be involved in a costly legal dispute with a former loved one than with a stranger. Developing the ability to identify and avoid relationship landmines by implementing a few structures on the front end can prevent you from legally battling someone with whom you once shared Thanksgiving dinner (or a pillow). The themes of love and money are inextricably intertwined. A problem with either of these areas can wreak havoc with the other.

Conversely, getting a handle on either one of these areas will pay dividends in both. Improved relationships with loved ones can facilitate wealth building. A strong financial foundation, in turn, helps eliminate the single biggest source of relationship disputes—lack of money. In terms of legal preparedness, an estimated 60 percent of American adults have gone through the exercise of creating a will. In the pages that follow, I will show how a will alone is incapable of protecting a family’s wealth and relationships from today’s unique challenges. A typical will utilizes a template that hasn’t changed much in more than two hundred years. Often, only the names are changed, and the “new” document can be created in less time than it takes to boil water. This document, acting alone, fails miserably to adequately protect most families, and, moreover, is a pitiful last form of communication to our loved ones. while also protecting wealth from our loved ones and their problems. This is not a book about financial planning. Someone might be a financial genius and still lose more than half of his assets in a breakup because he wasn’t legally protected. What does it matter whether our investment rate of return is 3, 4, 5, or 6 percent if we have a 40 to 50 percent chance of losing one-half of the assets to a bad breakup? Think the assets are safe if you are in a blissfully happy relationship? Not if you require extended long-term care or face other unexpected legal liabilities.

In the following pages, we will look at prenuptial, postnuptial, and cohabitation agreements, which have evolved in my law practice into a document I call the “love contract.” We will examine the contract process itself and use it to deal with not only financial and legal problems but also love and relationship issues.

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Ann-Margaret Carrozza ,Dr. Phil McGraw