Is a gift personal property or marital property?

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2019 | Firm News

The holidays weren’t that long ago. If you were fortunate enough, you may have got a new car from your spouse. As luxury car sales rise each December, they can be a popular gift item for some spouses. 

However, if you are one of the many couples working through a divorce after the holiday season, that car may come with strings attached. A gift of that caliber can change your asset division, just like other luxury gifts such as jewelry, home renovation projects or other big-ticket items. 

While the majority of Christmas gifts would not come into play during the property division process, some high-worth presents received over the holidays or another time could create a conflict if your spouse considers the gift of marital property. As Minnesota is an equitable distribution state, each spouse must receive a fair portion of all shared marital assets. In the event of a divorce, make sure that you understand how property division handles gifts. 

Gifts made to one spouse

Gifts or other large financial amounts given explicitly to one partner remain separate personal property during a divorce. The worth of the gift would not affect the fair distribution of marital assets, but instead, belong to the spouse who received the gift alone. This applies to: 

  • Large monetary gifts 
  • An inheritance in the name of one spouse 
  • A personal injury award amount on behalf of one spouse 

However, the concept of personal property can get complicated. Money deposited in joint accounts or used to enhance a marital asset (like a shared home) can become marital property due to the difficulty of sorting back out the personal property from the other marital assets. 

Gifts between spouses

The state of Minnesota always considers gifts given from one spouse to the other as marital property. That means that if your spouse got you a car for Christmas last year, the car’s worth would come into the equitable distribution calculation.