You’re getting divorced, and you and your spouse did not use a prenuptial agreement. As such, you are worried about losing assets when you have to divide them with your ex. You know that you both have a claim to your marital assets but you’re concerned about some assets that could potentially be considered separate property.
Specifically, you’re concerned about losing an inheritance that your parents left to you. Maybe it’s a significant amount of money, so it was essentially your retirement plan. But if you have to split that money with your ex, then you’re not sure you’re going to be able to retire on time. You also know that your parents would not have wanted the money to go to your ex and would have wanted it to stay in the family.
Did you commingle your inheritance?
If you received the inheritance yourself and you kept it separate from the other funds that you and your spouse controlled during your marriage, then it is probably still a separate asset. Even if you were married when you got the inheritance, courts typically look at this scenario as a separate asset classification, not a marital asset. This means that it won’t be subject to property division. Your parents left it to you and you took care to keep it separate, so it should stay with you.
If you’ve commingled it – mixing it with other assets – then your spouse may have a claim to a portion of the inheritance. One example of commingling is simply when you store it in the same financial account that your spouse has access to – such as a shared bank account. Another example would be if you purchased a joint asset with it, such as using the inheritance to buy a family home or to start a family business. Basically, if your spouse has access to your inheritance during the marriage, they may have a right to a portion of it after the divorce.
Understanding your options
Dividing substantial assets can become complicated, and it’s clear why you want to protect what is yours. You’ll need to know exactly how the state divides assets and how it defines the items and accounts that a couple owns. Be sure you know about all the legal options at your disposal by seeking legal guidance before moving forward.