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How is Inheritance Treated in Divorce?

Money inherited by a spouse during the course of a marriage will not necessarily be treated the same as other money or assets during the asset division process.

What happens with the inheritance will be determined based on whether it is classified as separate or marital property. Marital property is any property jointly owned by the couple, and separate property is only owned by one of the spouses and thus not subject to property division.

In most cases, inheritance will be considered separate property that is not subject to asset division. But if there has been commingling, this could complicate matters or may change a separate asset into a marital asset.

Commingling of inheritance

What might otherwise be considered separate property could become marital property if commingled with marital assets. If you receive an inheritance and put it into a separate bank account under your name, used only for your own investments or purchases, it will be considered separate property. However, if you put it into a joint bank account and used it for household or joint expenses or purchases, then it may be considered to have been commingled with your other assets, and thus subject to property division.

If you wish to guarantee that your inheritance will remain your own personal property in the event of a divorce, you  should deposit said monies in a new account and not comingle any other funds in the account. You should make sure that you retain all records and proof of the inheritance as it will necessary to prove the source of the inheritance.  Your failure to have proof may result in said property being deemed marital and subject to equitable distribution.

For more information about how inheritance gets handled during a divorce, contact an experienced attorney at  Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP.