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Division of Assets: May 2015 Archives

Mine, Yours or Ours? Ownership of Property During the Marriage and Upon Death or Divorce

Many married couples give little thought to the issue of which party "legally owns" property acquired during the marriage or the impact that legal ownership may have upon the distribution of assets in the event the marriage ends by death or divorce. Some couples assume, albeit incorrectly, that all property is "marital" in the sense that everything owned by either party will pass to the surviving spouse in the event of death.  Other couples assume, also incorrectly, that owning property in one's individual name (rather than jointly) will protect the asset from the other in the event of divorce.  While neither assumption is correct, the irony of the current state of Massachusetts law is that parties are afforded far greater rights in the property and estate of the other if their marriage ends in divorce than they are if their marriage ends in death.

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