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Is your inheritance a separate asset?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2024 | Divorce |

You got married 10 years ago. Five years after that, your parents passed away and they left you an inheritance. It’s a substantial amount of money, and your plan is to use it for your retirement. Since you were already married, your spouse also had the same plan.

But now your spouse has filed for a divorce. They want to split up the inheritance, claiming that it is a marital asset since you received it after you got married. They believe they deserve half of that inheritance for themselves, and they still want to use it to retire. But do you actually have to split it with them, or is it still a separate asset?

It may depend on how you stored it

The key may lie in whether or not you commingled the inheritance. You can do this by storing it in a shared bank account or by directly sharing it with your spouse, such as giving them access to the money or using it to make a joint purchase. Commingling the inheritance means that it does become a shared asset, so your spouse may have a valid point in saying that you have to divide it during the divorce.

On the other hand, you may have kept the money separate from the moment that you got it. Maybe you put it in your own retirement account, that was under your own name. You never gave your spouse access to it, even if they assumed that they would also be able to use it for retirement. If so, then it may still be a separate asset and would not have to be divided.

This process can get very contentious and complex, so take the time to explore your legal options carefully.