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Dividing gifts and inheritances during divorce

Texas couples who are considering divorce will also need to consider asset division. One question that may arise is whether inheritances and gifts go to one spouse or are split between both spouses. Texas is a community property state, but this does not mean that an inheritance is automatically divided 50/50 between spouses. In fact, inheritances and gifts are considered to be separate property as opposed to marital property.

However, property division of inheritances and gifts may still occur if the assets have been mingled with the rest of the marital assets. In other words, if an individual received an inheritance and deposited it in a bank account jointly owned by both spouses, the inheritance might be split between the two.

Gifts from friends and relatives may cause some problems. Sometimes, there will be disputes about whether the gift is actually a gift or whether it is a loan. Any significant gifts or loans that are given during a marriage should be accompanied by simple paperwork that specifies whether the money is a gift or loan and the terms of the loan.

If an individual getting a divorce had recently inherited a home and the home was in that individual's name, it would probably not be considered marital property. However, the couple might also have some money given to them for a down payment on a house. That money may have been placed in the joint account, and in such a case, that money might be considered marital property even if one of the spouses claims that it was an unused loan.

An attorney can be helpful in ensuring that assets are divided fairly and in helping to protect an individual's assets during a divorce. An individual who would like to protect their assets may wish to discuss with a lawyer how to best keep them separate.

Source: Forbes, "Divorcing Women: Here's How to Protect Your Inheritances And Gifts", Jeff Landers, August 19, 2014

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