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Inherited Property

What Happens to Inherited Property in a Divorce?

What Happens to Inherited Property in a Divorce?

Inherited property is the property that you receive after someone dies. It can be money, real estate, or any other type of asset. The concept behind inheriting property is to allow someone to give something they have worked their whole life to acquire to someone else. Often, inheritance is used for families to pass wealth from one generation to the next.

In Georgia, regardless of whether you received the property before or after the divorce, the inherited property is considered your separate property after a divorce. This means the inherited property will not be considered part of the marital estate. Therefore, it is not subject to division but instead remains the property of the person who received the inheritance.

That said, depending upon the actions taken with the inherited property after it was received, the inherited property that initially was separate property can become marital and subject to equitable division.

What Type of Actions Make Inherited Property Subject to Marital Division?

Joint Account

Joint Account

Depositing inherited money into a joint account may cause the court to view the inheritance as marital property.  In particular, the court will see that the money is commingled with other marital assets as a sign that the property was not intended to be kept separate.  Moreover, determining what funds are spent in a commingled account becomes impossible over time, forcing the conclusion that whatever inherited property there was became marital.  
Joint Investment

Joint Investment

Putting inherited property into a joint investment, such as a piece of land, building, or business, can make it subject to division in the event of a divorce.  This is especially true when both parties' names are added to any deed acquired by the investment of marital funds.  
Spouse's Efforts

Spouse's Efforts

If an inherited property appreciates due to your spouse's efforts, the appreciated value could be considered marital.  For example, if one party inherited a piece of property but the other spouse built a home on the property, the increase in the property's value due to adding a house would likely be considered predominately marital.  

Practice Pointer

If you receive an inheritance, you should talk to a family law attorney.  If you are already married at the time of the inheritance, a family law attorney could guide you to maintain your inheritance's separate property status.  If you are single at the time of inheritance, you could consider executing a pre-nuptial agreement to make all issues regarding pre-marital or separate property clear before the marriage. 

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