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Separate vs. Marital Property: How Do I Know What Is Mine to Keep?
By Carol Ann Wilson, CFP, CFDP
In general, separate property, includes what a person brings into the marriage, inherits during the marriage, or receives as a gift during the marriage
Marital property is everything acquired during the marriage no matter whose name it's in. In some (but not all) states, marital property also includes the increase in value of separate property.
Patty and Dan are getting a divorce. When Beth got married, she had $12,000 in a savings account. During the marriage, her $12,000 earned $800 in interest and now the account is worth $12,800.
Her property is $12,000, because she kept it in her name only. In some states, the $800 in interest goes into the pot of marital assets to be divided because that is the increase in value of her separate property. If Patty had put her Dan's name on the account, she would have turned the entire account into a marital asset. She would have made a gift to the marriage.
Many times, people bring a house into the marriage, especially if it is a second marriage. Suppose that Patty had a house when she got married, which she kept in her name only. At that time, ... more

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