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b2ap3_thumbnail_inheritance-rights_640-1.pngGetting married can be an extremely happy time in a person’s life. During this time, you may be focused on the wedding day and your upcoming honeymoon. However, spending some time on a properly-drafted prenuptial agreement could ensure your future happiness, even in the event of a divorce. Protecting assets received as an inheritance, for example, is made much easier with an effective prenuptial agreement than doing so without one. As a result, it is important to stress that during a divorce proceedings, absent a prenuptial agreement, it may be too late to protect vacation homes, rare collectables, and other inherited assets.

Strategies for Protecting Inherited Assets in Divorce

In Illinois, the law draws a distinction between marital property and separate property, specifically recognizing inherited assets as non-marital property in most cases. However, inherited assets that are combined with marital assets and used for family purposes can lose their identity as separate property, regardless of a person’s intentions. With that in mind, there are a few strategies for protecting inherited assets during divorce:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Female-Hands-Holding-Divorce_640.jpgWhen a couple gets divorced, everyone “knows” that each spouse is entitled to half of everything the couple owns, including the property that each party brought with them into the marriage. This idea is repeated as fact in countless movies, television programs, and informal advice forums. Such an assumption, however, about how property is divided in a divorce is, at best, misguided and, at worst, completely inaccurate—at least in the state of Illinois.

Equal Division Is Not Guaranteed

Illinois is known as an equitable distribution state when it comes to dividing property in a divorce. Equitable is not the same as equal, and the distinction is very important. The principles of equitable distribution—and Illinois law—require marital property to be divided in a manner that is fair and just. To determine what is fair and just, the circumstances of the marriage, divorce, and expected post-divorce situation must be taken into account. Important factors include:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_real-estate-lawyer_640.jpgWhen couples divorce, there are often many closely intertwined assets to sort through and divide. However, few items manage to outweigh the emotional attachment that a couple may have to their marital home. Sadly, it is this very same attachment that can make it difficult to make a decision that satisfies both parties. If you are filing for an Illinois divorce and are concerned about your home, the following information may help. 

Keep It or Sell It?

Before a couple can truly decide what will happen to the marital home, they must first determine if either party can reasonably maintain it. This consideration should include more than just the mortgage and insurance costs. Monthly maintenance, cleaning duties, and possible repairs should also be factored into the equation. If it turns out that neither you nor your spouse have the time, resources, or energy to keep up, it may be best to go ahead and sell it and distribute the proceeds accordingly. While it might be difficult to come to terms with this decision, try to frame it in a positive light. For example, selling your larger home gives you the chance to cut down on your bills and responsibilities, giving you more freedom in your new life. Who knows? Selling your home could be just the fresh, new start that you need.

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In a divorce proceeding, absent agreement of the parties, it is the Court's job to make an equitable division of the parties' marital property.  Often, disputes that arise during the course of divorce proceedings center upon what is "equitable," but before a Court can determine how to fairly divide the parties' property between them it must first know what property the parties possess.  There are a number of processes by which attorneys attempt to gather information and evidence about what property is owned by the parties.  The results often show automobiles, real estate, and less tangible property such as bank accounts, mutual funds, or other investment-related assets.  The tangibility of the assets does not affect the Court's ability to divide them, but what happens when the parties no longer possesses those assets?  If a party has given property away or has sold it for less than market value it may lead to claims of dissipation of assets, but sometimes neither party is the one who has given the property away.  Bank or other investment accounts can be presumed "abandoned", at which time the law requires the business holding the account to turn over that property to the Illinois State Treasurer.  The presumption arises after a period of inactivity by the account holder, the length of which varies depending on the type of property but generally is about five years.  So if the parties haven't touched an old bank account in years, those funds may no longer be where everyone thinks they are.  Luckily, one can easily check online to determine if the State of Illinois may be holding his or her abandoned property by going to the web address icash.illinois.gov.  If a claim is filed by either party and the State approves the return of the property, the "unclaimed" account or property can be added back into the marital estate and is then subjec

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