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Illinois divorcing couples should protect inherited assets

Filing for divorce in Saint Clair means that both parties should be aware of the best ways to divide inherited marital assets. Inheritance is not usually considered part of an equitable division in most situations and may be retained by the party that was heir to the family wealth, but there are exceptions.

In one couple's marital breakup, one had been particularly close to a family member who left considerable wealth upon his death. The situation became very stressful as the other party claimed to have a right to at least half of the other's inherited funds and tried to gain legal access to the money. Depending on the circumstances and the decision of the family law court, the money could be divided.

Things to consider before filing for divorce include the classification of inherited assets. They will need to be categorized as either marital property or separate property. In addition to inheritance proceeds, other assets may also qualify as separate property. Anything acquired before or after the marriage, using the date the couple officially lists as their date of separation, gifts given to an individual and any money received as part of an injury settlement may be separate property. Another situation that separates assets is a prenuptial agreement if one exists.

Owning marital property that has been gifted or inherited by one of the parties may be safe from the reach of the other. It is important to consult with a family law attorney for help in reporting and handling the assets to reduce the likelihood of losing some of it in the divorce agreement.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Here's How to Protect Your Inheritances And Gifts", Jeff Landers, August 19, 2014

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