A Free Trader Agreement, or Free Trade Agreement is a document which allows persons who are married but separated to purchase real property (real estate) without their spouse having right to the same. In NC by reason of marriage there are certain rights a spouse has in the other’s real estate simply by reason of the legal relationship between them. These rights attach to any real estate purchased during the marriage. Free trade agreements are used to vitiate these rights and allow each spouse to purchase property as if they were unmarried. These documents are used most often during the one year period of separation, as the parties no longer wish to be married, but are ineligible to file for divorce until the one year and one day of separation has passed.
Free trader agreements only affect property rights as they pertain to real property (land, houses, etc.), not bank accounts. You can buy the house if you have a free trader agreement- please be aware though that the funds you use would count against you in the eventual equitable distribution. You are buying the home separately but if you are buying the home with marital assets, it will still be subject to ED.
If you are already separated, then he would have no claim on monies you put into a separate bank account, unless it was marital money, like with the house situation above. Your separate bank accounts (the amounts in them at the date of separation) can still be considered in an equitable distribution claim when analyzing the entire marital estate.
I would have to review the 401k consent form to tell you whether or not he could still claim any of that money. You may be protected with what you have. However, it would still be better for you to get a separation agreement wherein he explicitly agrees to not seek any of your retirement accounts in the divorce. This will protect you completely. And yes, you can seek half of the money he invested into his retirement accounts during your marriage, even if he agrees not to seek yours. Remember though that equitable distribution needs to be filed before the divorce is finalized.