Minnesota couples who are getting married might want to consider creating a premarital agreement. As one financial expert points out, while this might seem like a cynical approach, it is not so different from wearing a seat belt. Neither action means a person really expects the worst to happen, but it can be important to be prepared.

Couples who are already married can create a similar document known as a postnuptial agreement. Both documents allow the couple to identify the assets and debts they want to keep separate in the marriage and to make a plan for how to divide shared property if there is a divorce.

People should also keep careful financial records particularly pertaining to individual assets. Opening up separate bank accounts may be a good idea even for a couple who primarily uses a joint account. These individual accounts can be used to manage each person’s individual property. If a person receives an inheritance and does not want to commingle it with marital property, the person should keep the inheritance in the individual account. If the person wishes to spend the inheritance, it should come from the separate account.

In a divorce, if the couple has taken these precautions, the process of property division may move along more smoothly. However, a couple still has the option of negotiating a settlement agreement with the help of their respective attorneys. The advantage of this approach is that it leaves the control over the outcome with the couple instead of with a judge. It may also be less expensive and time-consuming than going to court, but if one person refuses to cooperate, it might be necessary to turn to litigation.