The wife argues the trial court erred. When it classified and divided a portion of the parties’ Merrill Lynch account. The Appellate Court agreed.

The parties maintained a joint tenancy account with Merrill Lynch. It had been opened during the marriage. The proceeds of this account came from the sale of stock. Husband had acquired the stock both before and during the marriage.

The husband stated that he understood the effect of establishing a joint tenancy account. He testified that it was his intention that upon his death the account would pass to his wife.

During the marriage, the husband deposited a $10,000 legacy into the account. At the time of trial, the Merrill Lynch account balance was $34,386.05. The trial court awarded $10,000 of the account to the husband as his non-marital legacy. The remaining balance was divided equally between the parties.

Subsection (a)(1) of section 503 provides that all property acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage shall be non-marital property. Claims here are subject to the general presumption that all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage shall be marital property. Including property transferred into some form of co-ownership between the spouses.

Placing non-marital property in joint tenancy with a spouse creates a presumption that a gift has been made to the marital estate. The “donor” spouse may rebut the presumption of gift only by clear, convincing, and unmistakable evidence.

The husband offered no evidence. To overcome the presumption. Or to suggest the deposit of the legacy into the parties’ joint account was anything other than a gift to the marital estate.

IRMO McCoy, 225 Ill.App.3d 966.

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