Does your spouse have a right to your inheritance?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2023 | Property Division |

If you were given an inheritance by your parents, there’s a good chance that you consider this to be an asset that you own by yourself. Even when you were happily married, you thought of it as your own money, not a fund that you shared with your spouse.

If you get divorced, though, this can sometimes be called into question. Your spouse may know you have a significant inheritance and want you to divide that asset with them. They believe it is a marital asset to which they have a right. But is this accurate, and are you going to have to share it with them?

The inheritance begins as separate property

Generally speaking, your inheritance is initially going to count as separate property when it is given to you. It is not marital property, and your parents intended for it to stay within your family. This would mean that you do not have to share it with your spouse.

But the key can lie in the way that you saved your inheritance. If you kept it separate, such as creating a bank account specifically to store it, then it can retain its status as a separate asset. But if you commingled it by putting it into a shared bank account or allowing your spouse to use the money while you were married, it may have changed into a marital asset. If this has happened, then your spouse may be correct that you do have to share with them.

As you can imagine, this process can become very contentious, and it may not be obvious what type of asset you’re dealing with. Make sure you are well aware of all the legal steps to take to sort this out.