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Tips for protecting an inheritance in a high asset divorce

For most Maryland couples who are preparing to wed, preparation of legal documents is not at the top of their lengthy to-do list. That said, there are reasons to attend to legal needs as the wedding approaches, not the least of which is to protect an inheritance from loss in the event that the marriage should end in divorce. A high asset divorce can become very complicated, very quickly. Having protections in place can make a world of difference if that potential outcome becomes a reality.  

It should go without saying that a prenuptial agreement is the best way to shield an inheritance from loss during property division. Prenups can be drafted to specifically address inherited wealth, and to outline which assets will be subject to division if the marriage comes to an end. In some cases, however, a prenup was not put into place, and spouses have to find a different means of protection. That is often the case for couples who have few assets at the time of their marriage, but then build their wealth considerably as the marriage progresses.

In cases in which one spouse finds out that he or she can expect to receive a sizeable inheritance, a postnuptial agreement could be a good fit. A postnup also serves to protect assets from loss during divorce, and shares many of the same elements as a prenup. Yet another means of protection involves the creation of a living trust, which can "hold" assets, while allowing beneficiaries to access a portion of that wealth.

There are a number of different options for Maryland couples who want to protect against financial losses involved in a high asset divorce. It is important that individuals pursue options that are in line with their particular set of circumstances, and that they are fully aware of the pros and cons of various choices. Working with a family law attorney is a good way to ensure that an inheritance remains with the intended recipient, and is not lost in the course of a high assets divorce.

Source:, "Strategically Thinking About Divorce", Andrew Bass, April 5, 2017

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