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Impact of inheritance timing on asset division in Georgia divorce

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Divorce

The timing of receiving an inheritance plays a very important role in its division during a Georgia divorce.

Whether received before or during the marriage, when an inheritance was received can impact whether it is classified as separate or marital property.

Inheritance received before marriage

Inheritance received before marriage is generally considered separate property. Georgia law defines separate property as assets owned by one spouse before the marriage. If a spouse inherits money, property, or other assets before getting married, these assets remain separate and are not subject to division during a divorce. The key factor is that the inheriting spouse must keep the inheritance separate from marital assets. This means not mixing, or “commingling,” the inherited assets with jointly owned property or funds.

Inheritance received during marriage

Inheritance received during the marriage can be more complicated. Georgia follows an equitable distribution policy, meaning that the court divides marital property fairly, but not necessarily equally. An inheritance received during the marriage is initially considered separate property. However, if the inheriting spouse commingles the inheritance with marital assets, it may lose its separate status. For example, depositing inherited money into a joint bank account or using inherited funds to improve the marital home can turn the inheritance into marital property.

Protecting the inheritance

To protect inherited assets, spouses should avoid commingling. Keeping inherited funds in a separate account, not adding the spouse’s name to the deed of inherited property and maintaining clear records can help ensure the inheritance remains separate property. Additionally, spouses can use prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to specify that any inheritance remains separate property, regardless of its use during the marriage.

Legal strategies

Spouses should seek legal counsel to understand how the timing and handling of inheritance can impact its classification. Proper documentation and legal agreements can provide clarity and protection for inherited assets.

The timing of receiving an inheritance affects its division in a Georgia divorce. Keeping inherited assets separate can help ensure these assets retain their status as separate property.