If you have finally found the person you want to marry, you are probably itching to propose. You want your proposal to be as special as possible, of course. Bending onto one knee and handing your soon-to-be spouse an heirloom ring may seem perfect.
Before you give away a family heirloom, you should think about the possibility of losing the engagement ring forever. If this thought worries you, it may be better to propose with a different ring. Alternatively, you may want to create a prenuptial agreement to keep the ring in your family.
The ring is a conditional gift
When you give an engagement ring to someone, you do so on the condition he or she marries you. If the marriage happens, your partner fulfills his or her end of the bargain. At that point, your family heirloom probably becomes the sole property of your husband or wife.
You may eventually divorce
Even though most marriages start out happily, an alarming number of them fail. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 650,000 couples split every year. If you and your spouse decide to end your marriage, you must divide marital property equitably.
Because the engagement ring is a gift to your spouse, it is probably not part of your marital estate. Therefore, while your spouse must divide everything the two of you jointly own, he or she can probably keep the engagement ring.
You can protect yourself
If you do not want to lose your heirloom ring forever, you may want to create a prenuptial agreement. This type of agreement can outline exactly what happens to your ring in the event of a divorce.
Ultimately, before giving away something that is important to you and your family, it is advisable both to understand all possible consequences of your actions and to insulate yourself from as many of them as possible.