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Can you lose part of your inheritance in divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 4, 2021 | Divorce

A parent or other family member left you a sizable inheritance when they passed away. They left it only to you, so that means that your spouse has no claim to it as you divide up property and other assets, right? Not necessarily.

It depends on what you did with that inheritance. If you placed it in a savings or investment account that is only in your name and kept it there, it should be considered separate property in the divorce. Your spouse shouldn’t be able to claim any of it. 

Was the inheritance commingled?

Your spouse may be able to claim some of your inheritance if it was commingled with marital assets. That makes them marital assets that are subject to division. This happens a lot, understandably. When people receive a large sum of money or a valuable asset, they usually want to use it for the benefit of the family.

Here are some examples of ways it could have become commingled:

  • You put some of that inheritance toward buying your first home.
  • You placed some or all of the inheritance in a joint account.
  • You spent money from a joint account or credit card renovating a home that you inherited.

These are just a few of the ways that inheritances and other separate assets can become marital assets subject to division. Unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement stating that your spouse is not entitled to any of your inheritance in divorce, they can seek a portion of it.

If your spouse is seeking a share of an inheritance that was never commingled, you have a right to contest that. The more records you have showing that the inheritance was never subject to commingling, the better chance you have. Having experienced legal guidance can help you keep what belongs to you.