Property division: How does an inheritance figure into a divorce?

If a married individual is gifted with a sizable amount of money and the relationship breaks down, is it fair that the money should be split upon divorce? When it comes to property division issues in Canada, a person can protect an inheritance if a marriage ends in divorce. The most obvious way is with either a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married or a postnuptial agreement once the parties are already married.

These sorts of agreements need to be in writing and clearly state exactly what the issues are. Any gifted money should be kept separate from any used in a matrimonial home. If the money should be used as a down payment for a marital home and no document was in place to protect it, it may be considered part of the home and need to be split with a former spouse. 

If an individual wishes to keep an inheritance as a personal asset, commingling the money with familial assets is not a good idea. It should be kept in a separate account or trust fund. It must be protected as a personal asset.

There are many complicated laws in place when it comes to property division in Canada. A lawyer may be able to provide solid, helpful advice when it comes to what must be legally split and what might not. The laws regarding divorce and estate planning documents may not always be easy to understand an a lawyer might be able to provide his or her client with clarification when it comes to these important issues.

Source: moneysense.ca, "Estate planning: Keeping an inheritance safe from a spouse", Debbie Hartzman, Accessed on March 19, 2018

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