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Can you keep your inheritance in a high-net worth divorce?

For many Missouri residents, divorce is a legal process that ends a marriage, although the emotional aspects are often profound and can linger for years. For people who have accumulated a wide array of property and assets, however, divorce adds the challenge of a more complex litigation process. High-asset divorces typically require a thorough analysis of the properties involved, their value and potential disposition during the property division phase of divorce.

So what items are exempt from being divided during property division? Many properties or assets can be fought over in a high-asset divorce, but anything that was inherited by one spouse before and even during the marriage is exempt from division because it is considered separate property. The same goes for gifts to one spouse exclusive of the other. However, if the other spouse's name is included on the deed for a piece of property, for example, it can be considered shared property and therefore dividable in the event of divorce.

How can someone protect an inheritance from being divided? Spouses can protect inheritances by creating prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that clearly specific which properties or assets are separate. In addition, any document that proves a certain property was given by a relative, for example, should be kept by the spouse who received it. A tax return from the person who gave the item is also useful in proving who got the gift as long as it shows the beneficiary and the value of the item.

These simple tips can save time and money in a complex high-net worth divorce. If both parties are willing to discuss property and asset issues themselves before they take their case to court, their case can be resolved amicably. The help of legal professionals can be enlisted to guide them throughout the process.

Source: Wsj.com, "How to keep your inheritance in a divorce," Neil Parmar, Nov. 9, 2014

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