Wagoner Lawyer Blog Can a Wagoner County Divorce Lawyer Protect My Inheritance?

Wagoner County divorce lawyerWhen you come to the end of a relationship with a spouse in Oklahoma, it is natural to want to protect yourself and your financial future. A Wagoner County divorce lawyer can help you in many ways.

Sometimes, however, how we treat our money and other possessions during a marriage will dictate how that asset will be treated at divorce.

Here are some things that you might want to know about how assets, including an inheritance, can be treated during a marriage and at divorce.

Assets and a Wagoner County Divorce Lawyer

One of the major issues a Wagoner County divorce lawyer must consider is the separation and assignment of cash, property, and debts between a couple. In order to do this, a court has to assign a characterization to all property that belongs to the spouses.

Marital property or marital assets and liabilities are those pieces of property and debts acquired by a couple during marriage and using marital contributions to do so. These are normally such things as the family home, joint bank accounts, retirement savings, and benefits accrued during the marriage.

Property and debt accrued before the marriage or after are normally considered to be personal property, which is not subject to division by the court in most circumstances.

This is usually the rule with regard to inheritances as well. These remain the personal property of the person they are given to, even if that inheritance is given during the marriage.

However, if that inheritance is given to both spouses, it is usually a marital asset, subject to division during an Oklahoma divorce.

Co-mingling and Transmutation of Property

How you treat your inheritance over the course of the marriage may impact its characterization. Generally, your inheritance is your personal asset and not subject to division during divorce.

However, it is possible for that characterization to change depending on how you treat the asset. If you deposit your inheritance money into a joint account, that money is co-mingled with other joint assets and distributed to the benefit of the community. As such, it can lose its personal property characterization and be “transmuted” or changed into a marital asset.

Transmutation of property is a legal construct that allows a court to say that the basic nature of the separateness of the property no longer exists. The property has been so much a part of the marital assets, that its nature has been “transmuted” from separate to marital, or from marital to separate.

In order to remain a personal asset, it must be treated as personal and separate over the course of the marriage. If it is cash, it must remain in your separate bank account. If it is real property, it must remain in your name only to retain its characterization.

Here are some other ways in which property can be transmuted.

  • If you purchase a home that is held as joint property with right of survivorship, that will be enough to transmute the asset.
  • If you purchase a car with the separate asset and the car title is in both names, it will be considered to have been transmuted.
  • If you use the inheritance for the benefit of the marital couple, say for repairs to the family home, that too will transmute it.

The Value of A Good Prenuptial Agreement

However, if you and your spouse signed a valid prenuptial agreement (sometimes called an “antenuptial agreement”), the terms of the prenuptial agreement may govern the issue. This is one of the ways in which a good “pre-nup” can benefit a couple.

Even if the property has been co-mingled, if the couple has agreed in advance that the property will retain its personal characterization, it will continue to be treated as personal to the spouse who received the inheritance.

Issues of property characterization can be quite complex. You should seek help in this area from an experienced Wagoner County divorce lawyer. That attorney can help you determine whether co-mingling has occurred and whether that has changed the nature of the property.

Free Consultation: Wagoner Divorce Attorney

When your marriage plans unravel, get the best legal counsel available. Don’t go it alone. Get an experienced, reliable Wagoner divorce attorney on your side.

Contact the Wirth Law Office – Wagoner at 918-485-0335 today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

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