Will I have to divide my inheritance in a divorce?

When you are dividing assets in a divorce, you will have to consider your bank accounts, your home and many of your possessions. But what about your inheritance? If you received an inheritance from a late family member, will you have to divide it with your former spouse?

Spouses who have received an inheritance may be wondering how it will be affected by their divorce. Every inheritance is different, and the specifics of dividing it will vary case by case. When you and your former partner are figuring out how to handle an inheritance during your divorce, there are many factors that you will have to consider.

Assets inherited before marriage

Let’s say that a beloved family member left you a sum of money before you were married. Generally, the state will treat it as separate property that is not subject to division. However, if you transferred some of your inheritance into an account that you shared with your spouse, it may be considered marital property. In a situation like this, a court will typically rule that the sum is considered marital property because it was commingled with other assets. If you wish to keep your inheritance to yourself, it would be wise to keep it in a separate account. 

Assets inherited during marriage

If you receive an inheritance during your marriage, it will typically not count as marital property. The law can vary state by state, but inheritances usually count as separate property. Your inheritance will be exempt from division in a divorce unless you share it with your spouse—say, by depositing it in a joint bank account or using it for shared expenses. For additional protection, you and your spouse can get a prenuptial agreement that addresses how to handle any assets that you may inherit during the marriage.

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Keith B. Schulefand, Esq.
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