What You Need to Know About Divorce and Division of Property

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Wednesday March 15th, 2023.

Divorce is a complex process that can be emotionally and financially draining. One of the most complex aspects of divorce is the division of property. When a couple decides to end their relationship and get a divorce, they must determine how their property will be divided. This can be a contentious and complicated process, but it is important to understand the basics of property division to ensure a fair and equitable outcome.

Steps to Follow for Property Division

The first step in property division is to determine what property is considered marital property and what is separate property. The property you acquire during marriage is marital property, including assets such as homes, cars, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. Separate property is a property that was acquired before the marriage or received as a gift or inheritance during the marriage.

Once the property is classified, the next step is to determine the value of the assets. This can be done through appraisals, market research, or other methods. It is essential to have accurate valuations of all assets to ensure an equitable division of property.

After the value of the assets is determined, the next step is to divide the property. There are several methods for dividing property, including selling assets and dividing the proceeds, dividing assets based on their value, or dividing assets based on need. The process of division will depend on the specific circumstances of each case.

It is important to note that property division is not limited to tangible assets. Intangible assets such as intellectual property, patents, and copyrights can also be subject to division. Additionally, a debt must also be considered in the property division. Debts incurred during the marriage, such as mortgages and credit card debt, must be divided just like assets.

In some instances, couples are able to agree on property division without going to court, such an arrangement is known as a settlement agreement, and it can save time and money. However, it is essential to consult with an attorney before entering into a settlement agreement to ensure that it is fair and equitable.

The Benefits of Lifetime Gifts in Estate Planning

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Estate Planning on Wednesday March 15th, 2023.

Estate planning is an essential aspect of financial planning that involves making arrangements to distribute your assets and property after your death. While many people think of estate planning as something that they need to do towards the end of their life, there are several benefits to starting the process earlier, including the use of lifetime gifts.

Lifetime gifts are a popular estate planning tool that allows you to transfer assets to your beneficiaries during your lifetime. These gifts can take many forms, from cash and real estate to stocks and bonds. Here are some of the benefits of lifetime gifts in estate planning.

Reduced Estate Taxes

One of the most significant benefits of lifetime gifts is that they can help reduce estate taxes. When you give gifts during your lifetime, they are not subject to estate tax. This means you can transfer more of your assets to your beneficiaries without worrying about a significant tax burden.

Avoiding Probate

Another advantage of lifetime gifts is that they help your beneficiaries avoid probate. Probate is the legal process after someone dies, where a court oversees the distribution of their assets. Probation can be a lengthy and expensive process, and it can also be emotionally draining for your loved ones. By making lifetime gifts, you can avoid probate and ensure your beneficiaries receive their inheritance more quickly and easily.

Asset Protection

Lifetime gifts can also be used to protect your assets from potential creditors. If you transfer assets to your beneficiaries during your lifetime, those assets are no longer considered part of your estate. This means that if you face financial difficulties or are sued by someone, those assets will be protected and cannot be seized by creditors.

Simplifying Your Estate

Finally, lifetime gifts can help simplify your estate planning. By making gifts during your lifetime, you can reduce the complexity of your estate and make it easier for your beneficiaries to manage your assets after your death. This can help distribute your assets according to your wishes and avoid conflicts among your loved ones.