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Florida Family & Bankruptcy Attorneys » Tampa Divorce Inherited Assets Attorney

Tampa Divorce Inherited Assets Attorney

keeping-inherited-assets-during-divorce.jpgFlorida law requires a couple going through divorce to divide their marital property equitably between them. Marital property is typically assets acquired jointly during the marriage. Inherited property received during a marriage is normally considered separate property and remains with the person who received it. However, there are exceptions that can allow a party in a contentious divorce to lay claim to their estranged spouse’s inheritance.

There are steps Florida residents can take to ensure that their inheritance is protected in a divorce; however, few people anticipate divorce and take the necessary measures. In many cases, the recipient of family property finds they need an experienced and tough-minded divorce attorney to protect inherited assets as they dissolve their marriage.

Are you headed for divorce and have valuable inherited property, such as a vacation home, a family business, antiques, or monetary assets? You should consult an experienced Tampa property division lawyer from Florida Law Advisors, P.A., in Tampa to protect your rights. We can evaluate your assets to determine what should be considered marital or separate property and work to obtain an agreement or a judge’s order that ensures the assets you have inherited stay in your possession as you divorce.

Why Choose Florida Law Advisers, P.A. for a High-Asset Divorce

Florida Law Advisers, P.A., is a full-service law firm serving clients in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Orlando, and all of Central Florida. Our attorneys have a sophisticated understanding of Florida family law and the financial complexities that arise in the division of high-net-worth assets in a divorce. We are committed to providing strategic counsel and relentless representation that protects your financial interests as you divide marital property between your spouse and yourself.

Whether you and your spouse agree to the terms of the divorce or are engaged in a fierce battle over marital property, we can help. Our mission is to deliver high-quality legal representation at a reasonable cost, regardless of our clients’ wherewithal. We understand that clients need solutions, not steep legal fees. We’re proud to have steered thousands of Florida residents onto the road to a better future.

Our Tampa high-value property division attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to help you resolve the most sensitive and complex legal issues. No matter how difficult the choices ahead of you may seem, we will be there to help you understand your legal rights and the pros and cons of your options every step of the way.

How an Inheritance Can Become Marital Property

Marital property is typically all debts and property acquired jointly during a couple’s marriage. For instance, marital property will usually consist of property purchased jointly, like homes and vehicles, money in retirement plans that have become vested during the marriage and debt undertaken together.

Separate property, or nonmarital assets, refers to assets and debt either spouse acquires either before the marriage or after they have separated. Gifts that were presented specifically to one spouse — and not to the parties as a couple — should also be considered separate property. Assets inherited during a marriage would generally fall under this latter description and be classified as nonmarital assets.

However, under certain circumstances, a nonmarital asset may change its character and become a marital asset. This is known as “property transmutation.” Transmutation may occur due to:

  • Formal Legal Action – Several kinds of contracts could make the second spouse a co-owner of the first spouse’s property. This could be a clause in a prenuptial agreement (or a “postnup”), for example. Or, when refinancing the mortgage on an inherited vacation home, if the second spouse co-signs the loan, this would make the vacation home marital property.
  • Informal Agreement (Gifts and Promises) – Property ownership may change if it is transferred as a gift or promised to a spouse. Florida law ( Stat. §61.075(6)(a)1.d) states that marital assets and liabilities include “interspousal gifts during the marriage.” Even the promise of a gift can cause a separate asset to be transmuted into a marital asset. Oral promises are harder to prove, but if established serve as oral contracts.
  • Comingling Assets –Most cases of unintentional property transmutation are due to the co-mingling of assets. For instance, if the couple lives in a home that one party owned before they married, it will likely be considered marital property in a divorce because it has served as the couple’s marital home. Similarly, if inherited money has been invested and its proceeds spent for the benefit of both parties, that fund has been commingled. An inherited vacation home the couple has returned to each season and that the second party has helped maintain over the years with marital funds and personal effort could also be considered commingled This property might be considered both separate and marital property, with the non-inheriting spouse awarded a portion of the vacation home’s value derived from the use of marital funds and their sweat equity.

If the value of inherited assets increases during the marriage, this accrued value is considered marital property. For instance, if one spouse inherits several shares of an established corporation’s publicly traded stock, history tells us that the stock’s value is likely to increase over several years. After any investment with inherited funds has paid off, the gains would be marital property.

The objective in a divorce is to divide marital property equitably, or fairly. When one party is deemed to have rights to the other’s inherited property, we would try to negotiate to keep our client’s inheritance intact. For example, suppose our client’s spouse had a valid claim on an inherited vacation home. In that case, our client might offer to buy that share or give up a different asset in exchange for full ownership of the inherited property.

Protecting Your Inheritance by Avoiding Commingling of Marital Assets

If you mean to keep your inheritance from becoming marital property in Florida, you need to keep it separate from any jointly owned accounts or shared use. Once you deposit your inheritance into a jointly owned bank account or use it to purchase assets held in both spouses’ names, it becomes marital property.

Avoid adding your spouse’s name to accounts holding your inheritance or to titles of property you received as an inheritance to keep these assets from being commingled.

If you can establish that your spouse never accompanied you to an inherited vacation home, you can assert that it remains a separate property. Funds you use to make improvements on nonmarital property should come from accounts that do not bear your spouse’s name.

Another way to protect inheritance in divorce is to place these assets in an irrevocable trust that names you as the sole beneficiary of the trust. Assets kept in the trust should not be considered marital assets and, therefore, not be subject to equitable distribution. You’d need to not spend distributions from the trust on your spouse or to support your marital lifestyle.

How Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Can Help

One of the primary reasons to establish a prenuptial agreement or a post-nuptial agreement is to protect family heirlooms and other inherited assets so they can be passed on to your designated heirs.

A so-called “prenup” or “postnup” is a legal contract and will usually be upheld when challenged if it is fair, not entered by either party under duress or via fraud and is properly written.

A prenup or postnup can be written to state that specific assets will remain in the possession of the named spouse in the event of a divorce (or be transferred to an heir’s possession in the event of the named spouse’s death).

We strongly recommend that an attorney draft your prenuptial agreement and walk you through the necessary steps to ensure it is enforceable. Otherwise, you risk an invalid agreement leaving your inheritance in a precarious position.

Does an Inheritance Affect Alimony or Support?

When a Florida family law judge considers awarding alimony or support payments in a divorce, the factors he or she must consider include each spouse’s income, assets, and debts — marital and nonmarital.

Primarily, a judge considering an alimony award will look at the receiving spouse’s needs and the paying spouse’s income and ability to pay. If inherited property generates income, it could indicate a greater ability to pay alimony or less of a need to receive support payments and affect the amount of alimony awarded.

How Our Divorce Lawyers Can Help You Protect Your Inheritance

In a divorce, your spouse’s attorneys will conduct a detailed scrutiny of your holdings and then negotiate intently over division of property. As your divorce attorneys, we will apply the same scrutiny to your spouse’s holdings as well as your finances, and aggressively negotiate a division of assets that meets your needs and desires.

Our attorneys will take the time to thoroughly understand your individual circumstances and then develop a customized strategy that addresses your specific needs. We have a deep understanding of Florida’s divorce laws and extensive experience in handling complex financial matters. We also have a thorough understanding of tax laws and planning that is essential to minimizing tax liabilities after divorce and its impact on your assets and income.

Our team is well-equipped to tackle even the most intricate and high-stakes cases and our law firm has the resources to give your case the attention it requires. We are committed to providing strategic counsel and relentless representation to protect your inheritance and secure a favorable division of marital assets for you.

Get in Touch with Our Experienced Tampa Divorce Lawyers

At Florida Law Advisers, P.A., our experienced divorce attorneys in Tampa, FL, are well-equipped to handle the unique challenges that accompany divorces requiring the protection of inherited assets. Don’t leave the legacy you plan to pass on to your heirs to chance. Florida Law Advisers, P.A., will safeguard your inherited assets and help you navigate your divorce with confidence. Contact us today for a confidential consultation and ensure you have a skilled divorce attorney standing up for you.

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