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What Happens to An Inheritance In Georgia Divorces?

by Sharon Jackson  on October 12, 2022 under 

The idea of filing for divorce can be scary, especially when you have an inheritance or expect to receive an inheritance. Knowing that marital assets are divided when divorcing in Georgia can be troublesome when you have an inheritance that you hope can be passed on to your children one day. If you have received an inheritance or plan to receive an inheritance, it is best to consult with a family law attorney before your marriage to discuss a prenuptial agreement. If you do not have a prenup and decide to end your marriage, it is advisable to consult an experienced family law and divorce attorney who knows how inheritances are handled in a Georgia divorce and can protect your interests. 

Inheritance Is Separate Property in Georgia

The good thing about Georgia law is that inheritance is considered separate property. The bottom line is that you get to keep your entire inheritance when divorcing in Georgia even if you acquired it during the marriage. Georgia will not allow for the equitable division of inheritance that was acquired during the marriage like other marital assets. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule.

Keep Your Inheritance Separate

If you received the inheritance prior to getting married, it will only remain separate property if you do not commingle it with your spouse. Do not add your spouse’s name to any paperwork other that conveys an ownership or interest.  The same goes for receiving an inheritance after you marry. You must be able to show that the money or property was intended as a inheritance for you and not as a gift for you and your spouse. Do not put the funds from the inheritance in a shared bank account. It will only make it more difficult to keep this asset after divorce.

Investment Accounts Can Turn Into Marital Property

Inheritance can turn into marital property, and be equitably distributed if it was used to fund an investment account that has both spouses listed on it. So, if you receive an inheritance and open an investment account with your spouse as a joint tenant and the right of survivorship, this account becomes marital property and will be treated as such during divorce.

Are you concerned that you will lose your inheritance when you file for divorce in Georgia? If so, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced Gwinnett County divorce attorney about your situation. Call the office of Attorney Sharon Jackson, LLC, today to schedule an appointment.

Protecting Your Inheritance During Marriage

Even with the knowledge that inheritance acquired during a marriage is not considered marital property, you still need to take steps to protect it should you wind up getting divorced. 

Sign a Prenuptial Agreement

If you are anticipating an inheritance not long after you tie the knot with your new spouse, you can create and sign a prenuptial agreement. The agreement should outline how the inheritance you receive will be handled in the event of a divorce. By doing so, you can outright claim that any inheritance you receive during the marriage cannot be divided with other marital property and distributed equitably to your former spouse.

Avoid Buying Jointly Held Property

Do not buy property held jointly with your spouse using any funds from the inheritance. If you have to use the money from the inheritance to purchase property, make sure your spouse’s name is not added to the title. Keeping their name off the title ensures that the property remains separate and cannot be divided in a divorce.

Keep Detailed Records of Your Inheritance

Records of the inheritance can make a major difference in whether or not it can be considered marital property in a divorce. The records you should keep include the following:

  • Where the inheritance came from initially
  • Who the inheritance was intended for
  • The reason the inheritance was provided when it was left
  • Changes in the value of the inheritance
  • Where the inheritance is kept

It is important to build these records from the minute you receive the inheritance and update them periodically so you do not lose anything. Many banks and financial institutions do not keep records past a certain date, which means if you need them 30 years from now you might not be able to acquire copies.

Speak to a Georgia Family Law Attorney Today

Do you have questions about divorce and inheritance in Georgia? Call Georgia Divorce and Family Law Attorney Sharon Jackson, LLC, at (678) 436-3636 to schedule a consultation. Attorney Sharon Jackson can answer all your questions and explain how equitable division of a marital estate is handled under Georgia law.


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