The average person views his or her inheritance as more than financial. The money and other belongings they receive when a loved one passes is the result of that person’s hard work and financial discipline and they cared enough about their family to pass on that money. The value of an inheritance is so much more than a dollar amount.
It is for this reason that protecting an inheritance during a divorce is so important. Many individuals who are in the midst of a divorce want desperately to ensure their inheritance remains with them, but ending a marriage puts all of their assets in jeopardy. Even the intentions of the decedent might not be enough to prevent your soon-to-be-former spouse from taking what should rightfully be yours.
Working with an attorney during this difficult and confusing time is one of the best ways to protect your inheritance in a Connecticut divorce.
What is the Easiest Way to Protect Your Inheritance in Connecticut?
The best thing you can do to prevent your divorce from affecting your inheritance is to provide documentation that whatever was handed down to you was intended for you only. In most cases, a will, deed, letter, or a similar piece of hard evidence stating the intentions of the decedent will protect your inherited asset.
The sad thing is these documents tend to get misplaced over time and their absence puts your inheritance in jeopardy. If this is the case, you might be able to make your inheritance separate from your marital estate.
How Do You Keep Your Inheritance Separate?
Connecticut is an equitable distribution state. This means the state divides all marital property in a manner it considers fair. Keep in mind, this does not necessarily mean evenly or equally, which is how asset are divided in a community property state. Assets are divided based on who contributed what, financially or otherwise, to the marriage. If you do not keep your inheritance separate, it can be considered marital property and subject to equitable distribution.
It can also be considered marital property if marital effort is used to maintain the asset. For instance, you inherit a home from an uncle and your soon-to-be-ex-wife tended to that home for decades – it could not be considered marital property.
The best way to keep inheritance separate is to keep the funds in a separate bank account or trust. It should be distinguishable as yours alone and it should be this way from the start. Labeling something as yours alone after divorce proceedings begins reduces the odds it will be protected.
Another way to protect inheritance from being considered marital property is to implement a pre- or post-nuptial agreement that specifically states that an asset is yours alone because it was inherited. The more legal evidence you can provide to the Connecticut divorce court that something is yours and not marital property the better off you’ll be.
If you would like to speak to someone about your divorce and discuss what you can do to protect your interests in Connecticut, contact Richard Meehan at 203.916.1743 or by email at email@example.com.