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Health & Spirit

In-law wants to protect her investment with engaged couple

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I'm engaged to be married soon.

My fiancee bought a house last year, with a sizable down payment provided by her mother.

A few weeks ago, my future mother-in-law expressed the sentiment that we should wait to put my name on the deed of the house in order "to see how the marriage works out."

I understand that she wants to protect her investment, but we have decided to combine all of our finances in an effort to show unity, as well as making house-related issues easier for me to handle.

I feel like she thinks I'm a gold digger. To make matters worse, my fiancee has trouble establishing boundaries with her mother and did not inform her mother of our plans to combine finances until the other day. Her mother said this was "fine," but I wonder.

My future mother-in-law is fun and generous, and I value her advice, but I could go without directives and intrusiveness in the future.

How do I approach this sensitive subject?

-- Confused in California

Dear Confused: I agree with your choice to combine finances, and it sounds as if your future mother-in-law does, too.

You could handle this house situation by drawing up a prenuptial (or postnuptial) agreement where you and your future wife agree to repay her mother in full if/when you sell the house. If you and your wife are both on the deed, you might agree to forgo your own individual share of the value of the down payment if you and she divorce. Work out this agreement with a lawyer's help.

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