Your Family Matters

What happens to an inheritance during divorce?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | family law

If you’re getting divorced, you need to know how to split up your assets. Typically, all of the assets that you own are going to fit into two categories. Some will be marital assets and others will be separate assets. If you or your spouse have separate assets, you get to keep them. You just split up the marital assets.

But what does that mean for something like an inheritance? It is generally assumed that all assets obtained during a marriage count, naturally, as marital assets. So if your parents passed away after you got married and left you a substantial sum of money, does that belong to both you and your spouse?

Only in some situations

There are some cases in which you have to split an inheritance with your spouse, but this is not always true. In fact, there’s a good chance that an inheritance that was given to you directly actually counts as a separate asset. It was a gift specifically for you, not an asset that you earned during the marriage. If you set the inheritance aside and kept it to yourself, you probably get to keep it after the divorce.

But if you commingled the inheritance – sharing it with your spouse, keeping it in a shared bank account, using it to buy marital assets, etc – that turns it into a marital asset. Your spouse was benefiting from the inheritance during the marriage, so it is now an asset that has to be divided during the divorce.

As you can imagine, couples do not always agree on what should be done with their assets and the end of the marriage. If you are involved in a dispute or a contentious divorce, take the time to look into your legal options.