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Inheritance & Gifts

Inheritance & Gifts

Charlotte Gift & Inheritance Divorce Lawyers

Helping NC clients protect their assets in high net worth divorce

If you’re facing a divorce or separation, it’s important to understand the difference between separate and marital property. During the course of your marriage, you and your spouse likely accumulated a lot of assets. In the event of a divorce, the North Carolina statute of equitable distribution applies during property division – but what about any gifts or inheritances you received personally during the marriage?

Whether or not gifts and inheritances are marital or separate property depend on a number of factors. The Charlotte high net worth divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can talk to you about your particular situation, and determine into which category your property falls. Then, we work with you to protect your assets during your divorce settlement. Contact us today for experienced guidance.

What’s the difference between separate and marital property in Charlotte?

When determining property division in your divorce, the courts apply North Carolina’s equitable distribution laws (G.S. Chapter 50-20). In a nutshell, this statute means that, during the divorce process, all of your and your spouse’s property will be divided into two categories: separate and marital property.

Anything acquired prior to the beginning of your marriage would be considered separate property, and any assets and property acquired during the course of your marriage would be considered marital property. Separate property is yours and not eligible for equitable distribution. Marital property, on the other hand, would be eligible.

Is my spouse entitled to my inheritance money in our divorce?

First, let’s talk about the definition of inheritance. An inheritance is any type of money, property or other asset you receive after the death of the previous owner. People typically receive inheritances through wills or via intestate, meaning a person passed away without a will and the estate was distributed according to North Carolina law.

Under equitable distribution rules, inherited money is considered separate property and isn’t subject to division. However, in certain cases, there may be exceptions.

The inheritance was granted to both you and your spouse

In the majority of cases, a will grants money or property to a specific person, by name or relationship (daughter, grandson, etc.). This is a clear case of separate property. However, sometimes the creator of the will may grant an inheritance to both you and your spouse, with both of your names in the will. Even if the will names you “and spouse,” without a specific name, the inheritance is likely considered marital property.

You co-mingled the inheritance with marital funds or property

Even an inheritance that started out as separate property can later change into marital property. For example, if you inherited money via a will and then deposited it into a joint account during your marriage, a court may designate that money as a “gift” to your marriage. It’s best to keep any inherited money in a distinct and personal account, away from joint marital funds, in order to keep it as separate property.

An inheritance can also transform into marital assets if it’s used to purchase joint real estate. Another example – if you receive a monetary inheritance in a will and you and your spouse used it to pay off your mortgage or put a down payment on a new home, those funds are also considered a gift to the marriage.

Another way to ensure your inheritance remains yours is with a thorough premarital or postmarital agreement. Our Charlotte family law attorneys are happy to help you in drafting yours.

Is gifted money marital property? What about gifts from my ex-spouse?

Monetary gifts work much the same way as inheritances – per North Carolina law, separate property is property one spouse acquires before the marriage, or receives specifically via a will or gift during the marriage. So, for example, if you receive a $10,000 gift from a family member and deposit it into your own account, that money is your separate property in the event of a divorce.

However, this scenario may only be true if you or your spouse receives the gift from a third party. In most cases, when spouses give each other gifts during the course of their marriage, those gifts are considered marital property. The courts equitably divide those marital gifts along with the rest of your shared property, unless you have a previous agreement in place.

However, if the spouse gave the gift with the clear intent of it being separate property, then it should remain that way. These types of scenarios can get murky, but the Charlotte divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can help you work through the details.

How can I protect my gifts and inheritances during my Charlotte divorce?

One of the best ways to keep your gifts and inheritances separate from your marital property is to keep them in separate accounts. You should also keep careful documentation of where your assets or property came from, who the gift or inheritance was intended for and for what purpose, and any changes in value in the asset or property.

Pre- and postmarital agreements are another legally strong way to define your separate versus marital property, especially if you receive a significant gift or inheritance during your marriage. The more documentation and detail you have regarding your personal and separate assets, the better your chance for success in your case.

Working with an experienced and skilled divorce attorney can give you a better understanding of your options and the opportunity to move forward with knowledge and confidence.

Professional Charlotte gifts and inheritance divorce attorneys

Although it might seem straightforward, divorcing couples often disagree on who is entitled to inheritances and gifts. The family law attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC can provide guidance and legal advice to ensure your financial rights and interests are protected. We’re just across the road from the Home Depot off Ballantyne Commons Parkway. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.