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Protecting inheritances in divorce

When you set about negotiating a fair division of property in divorce, you may worry that your inheritance is in danger of getting divided like the rest of your property. Fortunately, inheritances generally enjoy an extra layer of protection from property division, but there some important exceptions to consider.

While inheritances are usually not considered marital property, the matter can get murky depending on when you received your inheritance and the ways you chose to use it or hold it. In general, property is very difficult to keep off the negotiation table the more interaction your spouse had with that property.

If you received your inheritance and kept it in a separate account that did not include funds from your spouse or that your spouse did not control, then you probably have a fairly clear-cut case of separate property. However, in the real world, this is not always how things work out.

In many marriages, once one party receives an inheritance, they choose to use it for things in the marriage, such as buying a home. If you chose to use your inheritance to obtain property that both of you used, like a home or car, or if you placed the inheritance in an account you both held in common, then the lines become more fuzzy. This is especially true if both spouses contribute money to an account. In these cases, the assets mingle together, and it is very difficult to argue that they are separate.

If you worry that your divorce may threaten your inheritance, do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney. With proper legal counsel, you can examine all your options for protecting your rights and you future.

Source: findlaw, "Inheritance and Divorce," accessed June 16, 2017

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