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Family law: Protecting an inheritance during a divorce

Divorce can stir up some nasty emotions. Luckily, in Alberta, there are family law rules in place that provide guidelines for some possible contentious issues like division of property and other assets. These laws can sometimes overlap into other other areas. For instance, how would one go about safeguarding a downpayment on a house that has been given as a gift when going through a divorce?

The most succinct way of doing that is by having a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement in place. Any money that has been given as a gift should be kept separately from any joint accounts, especially when there is no contract in place. If it is commingled in a joint account, it may be considered to be a family asset and up for division should the relationship or marriage end. 

This kind of money, experts say, can be used for lifestyle and to buy gifts for a spouse, but never as a shared resource. If the money is to be used to purchase a family home, it is even more prudent to have some sort of marital agreement in place. It is better to be prepared for unforeseen events.

A lawyer who is experienced in Alberta family law may be able to offer advice to a client who finds him or herself in such a situation. A lawyer may be able to assist a client in drafting a marital or cohabitation agreement that suits a client's individual circumstances. It is better to be cautious when safeguarding money which has been given as a gift.

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