SMART MONEY: Who gets an inheritance in a divorce?
DEAR BRUCE: I understand that money in only a husband’s or wife’s name can still be claimed (shared) by the other in a divorce. Can an inheritance gift to a person remain the sole property of that person to whom it was given and held outside of the sharing in the event of a divorce? — Gordon, via email
DEAR GORDON: There is no absolute answer to your question. It depends on the laws of the state where the divorce is being sought.
If there is a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial, that could put the money aside as the sole property of the one person; it’s not a matter under ordinary circumstances to be considered in a divorce.
In general, if an inheritance is received during the marriage, the monies are considered to be property of both and are very likely to be shared in a divorce.
DEAR BRUCE: I’m wondering how to go about pursuing an idea for an invention I have. It’s related to the fitness industry.
This would require manufacturing some small devices and trying to sell/lease them to large gyms. I think the idea is pretty good, but I’m stumped as to where to go from here.
I’ve heard about those invention help services and can’t help but think that they’re scams.
What do you think? — Jerry, via email
DEAR JERRY: Ideas are a nickel each, but most of them won’t even bring in a nickel. One of the reasons is because they require a great deal of time to pursue.
Let’s assume that you have a great idea for a device. The first stop should be a patent attorney to determine if it is something that can be protected by a patent. Answering that question itself can be costly — anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500 just to get an opinion on whether it’s protectable.
Let’s assume it is. The next question is, are you prepared to spend another $3,000 to $5,000 or more to file for a patent to protect your notion? Once that is done and the patent is granted, at least you’ll have a reasonable opportunity to explore selling it.
You asked about the services that offer to help. In my opinion, they should be avoided.
I know what I’ve outlined is expensive, but unfortunately, that is part of the reason so many ideas remain in the idea stage.
If you are absolutely persuaded that your idea is worth it, start with a patent attorney. Good luck.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided. The Bruce Williams Radio Show can now be heard 24/7 via iTunes and at www.taeradio.com. It is also available at www.brucewilliams.com.