Usually, when a couple divides their property during divorce, an inheritance generally belongs to the person it was given to — not both spouses. However, there are times when the non-recipient spouse may be able to obtain a portion of an inheritance that was left to their partner.
Inheritances aren’t usually divisible simply because they are not considered to be marital property. However, if your spouse placed that inheritance into a joint bank account, for example, then you may be entitled to a share of the inheritance based on the state’s distribution rules.
Similarly, if the inheritance has been commingled with your accounts and has been used to pay for joint expenses, you may be entitled to a share. Why? When someone shows that they intended to share an inheritance with their spouse and places it in a shared account, then that could lead to the inheritance losing its status as separate property.
What should you do if you want to protect your inheritance?
If you have received an inheritance, then you should consider keeping that money in a separate account. You can always take out a portion to add to a shared account or to pay household bills, but it’s smart to keep the majority separate. That will help your inheritance keep its separate property status.
If you are getting a divorce and you have one or more inheritances that you are concerned about having to split with your spouse, then it’s wise to learn more about how the law views those assets and to take steps needed to protect them.