Be mindful of protecting that inheritance following marriage

| Dec 15, 2014 | Divorce |

You learn to share as a kid. You might vaguely remember back to how difficult that seemed at times, but you persevered and figured it out.

You had to; it’s simply part and parcel of growing up.

And it certainly extends to adulthood. In fact, sharing is arguably what marriage is centrally about, with each party following betrothal learning to think about material things less in terms of “what’s mine” and more in terms of “what’s ours.”

That generally applies to the family home, the cars, the money that a couple works hard to earn to shelter themselves in retirement, and so forth.

But that everything-in-one-pile approach is not universal. That is, some marital unions in Georgia and elsewhere are marked by inheritances that one or both parties are fortunate to have and want to keep separate following marriage.

That is not being unromantic. Rather, and as noted in a media discussion of inheritance and divorce, it is often pragmatism pure and simple that motivates one person in a marriage to want to protect an inherited asset.

That asset might be a family-owned business. It could be property earmarked for future disposal by parents or, perhaps, a valuable art collection. It could be many things.

A central point made in the above-cited source concerning an inheritance is this: If you want to keep it following marriage, it might be a good idea to timely consult with a proven family law attorney experienced in property matters.

The reason why: An asset perceived as separate property can lose that status through its commingling with other property, ultimately being deeded as marital property by a judge during divorce proceedings and subject to equitable distribution between a divorcing couple.

Premarital contracts, such as prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, can identify an asset as separate property and help preserve that status. Maintaining accurate records is vitally important in helping to clarify the status of property, as is the maintenance of separate accounts. Trusts are often key legal instruments that can be established to protect an inheritance.

In summary, there are myriad steps that a married partner can take to assure that an inheritance is protected in the event of a divorce. A seasoned family law attorney can help.

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