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Inheritance Issues in Divorce

Naperville Divorce Lawyer for Asset Division

Aurora inheritance and divorce lawyerA divorce has many moving parts. One of the most prominent of these parts is the equitable distribution of the couple's marital assets. Marital assets are assets obtained, purchased, or developed during the couple's marriage. These, generally, include the couple's home, investments, savings, and any tangible assets they own, like vehicles and household appliances. It can also include their debts, such as student loans accrued during the marriage.

Assets obtained through inheritance occupy a difficult niche when it comes to distributing marital assets. The best way to ensure that there are no surprises about your assets if you choose to divorce is to work with an experienced marital lawyer to determine each asset's status as single or marital property. You might also want to consider working with an estate planning lawyer to draft your own will and determine who will receive your assets and how in the event of your death.

Inheritance Is Generally Exempt from Equitable Distribution of Assets

Generally, assets obtained through inheritance remain singly held property if the recipient is married. This means that the assets are not subject to distribution in the event the recipient gets divorced. Other singly held assets can include personal savings accounts and gifts received from parties outside the marriage, such as friends or co-workers. Assets obtained before entering the marriage are also typically considered to be singly held assets. This can include an individual's vehicle he or she owned before being married, income from an asset he or she established before the marriage, and investments made prior to the marriage.

Unless it Is Commingled During a Marriage

Singly held assets can become marital assets, though. This is known as commingling assets. This occurs when an individual changes the ownership of a singly held asset to include his or her spouse's name or when the asset's value changes due to influence from the owner's spouse. For example, if an individual owns a home before getting married, then his or her spouse moves in and helps with the mortgage, utility, and maintenance costs while putting money toward improvements to the home, the home may become commingled property. This can occur with inherited assets as well, such as an inherited vehicle whose recipient changes the title to include his or her spouse or an inherited sum of money used to make purchases for the couple.

Differentiating Between Singly Held and Marital Assets

Couples can work together to determine which assets are singly held and which are marital assets and, thus, subject to equitable distribution during their divorce. The easiest way to do this is to write a prenuptial agreement that outlines which assets remain singly held after marriage and which, if acquired, will belong solely to one partner. A couple might include language stating that if either party attends college during the marriage, that party remains responsible for repaying any student debt accrued.

Couples without prenuptial agreements can make determinations about their assets before filing for divorce. This should be done with a lawyer's guidance. To make the property distribution process easier, a couple might opt to distribute certain assets themselves, such as establishing separate checking accounts and moving marital money into them.

When a commingled asset grows in value during a couple's marriage, the couple could run into the issue of only the increased value being deemed a marital asset. In a case like this, the couple must work closely with their lawyers to determine a fair distribution for the property's new value, which might not be a 50/50 split. Equitable distribution is the principle of dividing a couple's assets according to their personal and financial needs following their divorce, which does not necessarily mean exactly equal shares.

Work With an Experienced Naperville Divorce Attorney

If you are considering filing for divorce, discuss your plan with an experienced Naperville divorce lawyer to ensure that you enter the process with a complete understanding of how it works and what will happen to your assets. Inherited assets can be tricky, and an asset that you initially thought would remain separate could actually be subject to division in your divorce. To learn more, contact our team at Pesce Law Group, P.C. today to set up your free consultation with us.

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