Below you’ll find a detailed forensic analysis demonstrating that John Doe had inherited a set of particular properties (names redacted) through gifts and from the estate of his father. In support of the conclusion that these properties are not marital and should not be split as marital property with his soon-to-be ex-wife, jane Doe, the facts are as follows:
Case Background and Estate Inheritance Conveyances
The Iron-Clad Will Granting Property to the Next Generation
John Doe Sr., herein after referred to as “dad”, is the deceased father of John Doe. Dad passed away in March 2016 leaving behind a Last Will and Testament fully executed October 1, 2013. Paragraph 4, subsection (b) of the Will specifically states that dad’s house and land situate lying and being at Property 1 (proper address and property name redacted) was bequeathed to his children, namely Child 1, Child 2, and John Doe as tenants in common for their natural lives.
Subsection (d) of the same Paragraph 4 specifically bequeaths the house and land at Property 2 (proper address of second property and property name redacted) to John Doe absolutely.
Dad’s will establishes prima facie that John’s interest in both of these properties was established through dad’s will as inherited and therefore non-marital property.
To further authenticate the clarity of dad’s interest that both his real and personal property pass to his offspring, Clause 5 of his Last Will and Testament specifically states the following: “I devise and bequeath all the rest and residue of my property both Personal and Real whatsoever and wheresoever that may be found and not otherwise disposed of in my Will to my son, John Doe, absolutely.” To further avoid any ambiguity whatsoever relating to how the property located at Property 2 would be inherited, the Will specifically identifies “the piece and parcel of land buildings and hereditaments at Property 2 (property name and address redacted) as property that should be conveyed as part of the Rest and Residue of dad’s estate.”
Jane’s claims that any portion of these properties was acquired through marriage or that any was somehow acquired through marital funds are not supported by the facts. All of these properties have been delineated under dad’s will as inherited and therefore non-marital.
Financial Tracing and Following the Flow of Money
XYZ bank, headquartered in Location, is one of the banks where the proceeds from dad’s estate were deposited. Initially, there were two deposits. The first occurred on May 2016 in the amount of 14,057.61 British pounds. This represents a reimbursement of funeral expenses to the estate from insurance.
The second in the amount of 356,345.83 Pounds occurred October 2016. In accordance with the terms of dad’s will, distributions from the XYZ bank accounts went to Child 1, Child 2, and Child 3, all of whom are John’s sisters and co-beneficiaries of dad’s will as well as to accounts with ABC bank titled in John’s name. The funds transferred from XYZ bank were denominated in British pounds. The British pounds which were wired from XYZ bank to ABC bank were converted from British pounds to U.S. dollars upon being credited into John’s account at ABC bank.
The other bank which received allocations directly from Dad’s estate was the JKL Bank. There were three incoming credits to JKL Bank August, 2016 denominated in foreign currency in the amounts of 313,927,234.92, 6,623,223.07, and 5,416,990.24.
There were several outflows from XYZ bank and corresponding inflows to John’s personal accounts with ABC bank. They are as follows:
5/XX/2016: XYZ bank paid out 6339.86 British pounds. 5/XX/2016 ABC bank credited $9000
10/XX/2016: XYZ bank paid out 10,041.81 British pounds.10/XX/2016 ABC bank credited $12,000
11/XX/2016: XYZ bank paid out 10,014.70 British pounds. 11/XX/2016 ABC bank credited $12,115
11/XX/2016: XYZ bank paid out 10,030.50 British pounds. 11/XX/2016: ABC bank credited $12,187.89
11/XX/2016: XYZ bank paid out 10,030.50 British pounds. 11/XX/2016 ABC bank credited $12,114.23
11/XX/2016: XYZ bank paid out 10,038.49 British pounds. 11/XX/2016 ABC bank credited $12,204.20
12/XX/2016: XYZ bank paid out 10,038.49 British pounds. 12/XX/2016 ABC bank credited $12,250.11
12/XX/2016: XYZ bank paid out 10,038.50 British pounds. 12/XX/2016 ABC bank credited $12,384.04
1/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 10,038.49 pounds. 1/XX/2017 ABC bank credited $12,017.02
1/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 9538.50 pounds. 1/XX/2017 ABC bank credited $11,148.39
2/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 5538.50 pounds. 2/XX/2017 ABC bank credited $6,696.20
4/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 10,038.49 pounds. 4/XX/2017 ABC bank credited $12,497.15
4/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 56,030 ponds. 4/XX/2017 ABC bank credited $71,269.66
5/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 4139.14 pounds. 5/XX/2017 ABC bank credited $5,200.00
6/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 4060.49 pounds. 6/XX/2017 ABC bank credited $5,000.00
6/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 6099.85 pounds.
7/XX/2017: XYZ bank paid out 912.46 pounds.
After receiving the inflow of funds from XYZ bank to ABC bank, John directed money from these inherited inflows to improve Property 2 as well as Property 1.
Payments were made to the contractors who improved these properties via Jane Doe and Jane Doe rather than through traditional banking channels within Location. From a western and developed country perspective, there is nothing traditional or secure within the foreign banking system.
In fact, withdrawing money circulating through the foreign banking system is wrought with corruption. First of all, for banks to agree to withdrawals, bribery is common. Additionally, beyond bribery, banks charge between 2%-4% on any amounts withdrawn. To circumvent this corruption and usury, John formed a business alliance with Jane Doe, an international business owner who purchases with U.S. dollars containers stocked with computers and various technology supplies and ships them to Location. It is advantageous and much more reliable for her to conduct business using U.S. dollars versus foreign currency. He did the same with Jane Doe wiring money directly to her from the ABC bank account. In short, John transferred dollars from his ABC bank account to persons, who in turn then paid John’s contractors (Contractor) on his behalf.
In November of 2016, John paid John $51,632.65 via check from his ABC bank account. He did the same again in December 2016 in the amount of $10,000. Additionally, from the same ABC bank account, he wired $10,000 to Jane Doe in January 2017 and $5000 to her in January 2017 as well as $5000 wired to her in February 2017.
In like fashion, John wired from his ABC bank account to Jane Doe $69,500 in May 2017 as well as a second wire to her from the same ABC bank account in June 2017 in the amount of $7500. There are corresponding receipts from Contractor to Jane Doe on behalf of John Doe. The receipt dated December 2016 specifically identifies that the purpose of the payment was for construction work at Property 2.
Similarly, the receipt dated December 2016 in the amount of $10,000 also identified construction work at Property 2. There is also a receipt from Contractor to Jane Doe in June 2017 in the amount of $15,000 which specifically identified that it related to renovation work at Property 1.
In addition, there is a receipt Jane Doe on behalf of John for construction work performed at Property 2 dated in May 2017 in the amount of $29,500. There is also a receipt from Contractor to Jane Doe for the benefit of John relating to work performed at Property 1 dated May 2017 in the amount of $40,000.
Money deposited with JKL Bank that existed after Dad’s passing was also used to improve the Location properties. Because money at this bank was already denominated in the local currency, it could be used directly and did not need to be converted from British pounds to U.S. dollars. The JKL Bank indicates three payments in foreign currency directly to John Doe, the owner of Contractor. all occurring in January 2017 in respectively 40,000,000, 50,000,000, and an additional 50,000,000.
Property Inherited Directly By Spouse Deemed Non-Marital Asset and Retained from Estranged Spouse In Divorce
Based on the above tracing and forensic financial research, it should not be disputed that the properties in question were received directly from John’s dad, and are not part of the marital estate. It is also clear that some of the money used to improve the properties came directly to an account at JKL Bank for which Jane had no connection whatsoever.
It is also clear that there is a direct and systematic transference and therefore linkage of funds from XYZ bank to accounts at ABC bank titled solely in John’s name. It is also clear that Dad was very intentional with respect to making sure that the properties passed to John directly and were protected from future claimants. The properties were intentionally not left to Jane and John collectively or jointly. They were left to John individually. Dad’s estate plan represents a parent’s desire to protect and preserve assets for his offspring and outside the grab of an estranged wife.
Living in the sophisticated society of the United States, the most developed economy and legal system on the globe, it is difficult for us to fully grasp how business and finance transpire in less sophisticated and developed countries in the world. The fact that money moved from ABC bank to siblings or spouses to pay for renovations to the properties, while appearing unorthodox and strange, perhaps even weird or nefarious from our American, western perspective, does not impact the direct traceability of these funds as non-marital.
The transferences to Jane Doe emanated directly from the ABC bank account. Their receipts demonstrate that the cash they received from ABC bank was used to improve the properties and pay Contractor. Moreover, regardless whether other cash was deposited into the ABC bank account, to the extent to which we have demonstrated direct traceability to inherited funds evidences the retention of the non-marital status of the original inherited funds and their re-allocation into the properties.
Furthermore, marriage is not a commercial business. Most people while married don’t think of segregating every inflow or outflow or retaining every possible receipt in anticipation of potential divorce litigation. This is certainly true for the vast number of marriages with which I am familiar. The fact that John was able to identify the inflows, outflows, and receipts that affirm his position is nothing short of amazing in any case, but especially so when dealing with foreign as well as domestic banking systems as well as foreign and domestic customs.
If the money from Dad remained with XYZ bank and never flowed to ABC bank, no one would even think of suggesting a marital claim. The mere fact that they were brought onshore through ABC bank does not change the characterization of the money because the ways in which they are inextricably linked. They were non-marital when they flowed into ABC bank. And, because they flowed from ABC bank to the inherited properties, these properties should equitably remain as non-marital not be tainted or arbitrarily labeled otherwise. Ignoring the traceability and the non-marital status would be unjust and inequitable.