When a Georgia marriage comes to an end, one of the primary focal points within the divorce involves the division of marital property. For those spouses who have been left an inheritance, protecting that gift from the property division process is often a concern. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to exclude an inheritance from division unless the following protective measures were taken.
The best way to shield an inheritance from divorce is to draft a prenuptial agreement that specifically addresses the matter. In such a document, spouses can agree that any inheritance or significant gift made by family members will remain the property of the heir or recipient in the event of a divorce. For those who are already married when the issue arises, the same level of protection can be found in a postnuptial agreement.
Otherwise, spouses should gather any documentation that supports their claim that an inheritance should be considered separate property. This includes the will or trust that addresses the inheritance, or any correspondence regarding the matter. It can also be helpful to provide proof that these funds were placed within a separate account and not commingled with marital funds.
When considering the matter of protecting an inheritance from the property division process, Georgia spouses should understand that the old adage applies. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. However, each circumstance is unique, and individuals should ask their divorce attorney to help determine if an inheritance that does not meet the specifications outlined above could still be considered separate property within a divorce.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “How to Keep an Inheritance From Going to a Spouse During Divorce“, Neil Parmar, Nov. 9, 2014