Will You Lose Your Inheritance in a Divorce?
18 December 2022IN: Divorce
You received a huge sum of money after your father died last year. Now, you are getting ready to file for divorce, but there is one thing stopping you: What will happen to your inheritance? You are concerned that your spouse may try to get their share of it.
But you may be relieved to know that they most likely cannot. However, your spouse’s rights to your inheritance will depend on when you received it and how it is used.
What the Law Says
Generally speaking, inheritances are not subject to equitable distribution in a divorce because inheritances are not considered marital property. Instead, inheritances are treated as separate property. They belong solely to the person who received the inheritance, which means they do not have to be shared if the couple divorces. It does not matter if the inheritance was received before or during the marriage.
So, because your inheritance is not considered joint property, it is technically not subject to split in a divorce. This is true even in a community property state like California.
However, there is one exception to the rule: if the inheritance is commingled. In order for you to keep your inheritance in a divorce, you need to keep it separate, which is easier said than done.
What this means is that if the inheritance is deposited into a joint bank account and used for joint marital expenses, then the inheritance may no longer be considered separate property. This may include using the inheritance to pay the mortgage or make improvements to the marital home. This is called the commingling of the inheritance. Commingling turns separate property into marital property.
If separate property is used to benefit marital assets, the inheritance will likely no longer be considered separate property. In this case, it may be subject to division upon divorce. The status of inheritance — whether it is separate or shared — is fact-specific. Your court may treat inheritances differently in different situations, so if you have concerns, contact a family law attorney.
The best way to protect your inheritance is to keep it separate from all marital property. Do not deposit it into a joint account or use it to pay for joint purchases.
You can also protect yourself by saving all legal documentation that shows the inheritance was meant for only you and not you and your spouse. You can also put your inheritance in a trust with yourself or your children as the beneficiary.
Contact Our Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer Today
Not all assets are subject to split in a divorce. You may be happy to know that some assets, such as inheritances, will not be lost if you decide to end your marriage.
Learn more about your legal rights by contacting a Murfreesboro divorce lawyer from The Law Office of David L. Scott. We can handle all aspects of your divorce and ensure it is handled fairly. Schedule a consultation with our office by filling out the online form or calling (615) 896-7656.