Can your ex claim a share of the property your grandmother left to you? What about the inheritance you expect to receive from your uncle?
The answers depend on a variety of factors. If divorce may be on the horizon and you want to protect an inheritance, the best approach is to start planning as soon as possible with a family law attorney who understands the complexities of property division laws in Massachusetts.
Protecting an Inheritance Received Before or During the Marriage
When a couple divorces in Massachusetts, they are required to divide their marital property in accordance with legal standards as well as any pre or postnuptial agreements entered into. An inheritance may or may not be treated as marital property, so to be safe, the best way to keep that inheritance from being lumped in with marital property is to execute a pre or postnuptial agreement specifying that the other spouse will have no interest in the inherited assets.
With or without an agreement, it is crucial to keep inherited property from being co-mingled with marital property if you want a court to treat it as your separate property. A family law attorney could review strategy options for keeping property separate. Establishing a specific account in your own name might work for some types of assets, but for real estate or other property, you will need a different approach. If you use inherited property to benefit the marriage, it is more likely to be treated as marital property that must be divided in divorce. In some cases, it might make sense to create a trust and name your children as the only beneficiaries, but that could limit your ability to access those assets in the future.
Do You Need to Protect Future Inheritances?
If you expect to receive an inheritance, you will probably not need to worry about having to share those future assets with your ex. The expectation of an inheritance is not certain and too vague to be divided. However, there are two situations where a court is more likely to take that inheritance into consideration when dividing marital assets.
The first situation is when an inheritance is set up to pass to you through a trust. This is much more certain, particularly if the trust is irrevocable. In addition, if the expected inheritance is in probate during the divorce proceedings, the court may consider that property when dividing your assets.
An Experienced Massachusetts Divorce Lawyer Could Help Protect Your Inheritance
To gain your financial objectives in divorce, you need to understand the full picture and develop a plan calculated to achieve those goals within the legal guidelines. The sooner you begin working with a knowledgeable family law attorney, the more options you will have for protecting your inheritance and other assets. To find out how the skilled legal team at Koiles Pratt Law Group could help, contact us now for a confidential consultation.