Legal Professionals of Hirsch & Ehlenberger

Protecting an inheritance received during a marriage

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2022 | Prenups and Postnups

An inheritance can take a little of the pain out of losing a member of your immediate family. While financial resources and real property won’t replace the person you love, they can improve your quality of life during a difficult time.

Some people find themselves about to receive a sizable inheritance while actively struggling with their marriages. Although state law does theoretically earmark inherited wealth as separate property that you don’t have to divide in a divorce, the threat of commingling is a constant concern. It only takes a few small financial mistakes to put your inheritance at risk if you divorce.

Drafting a postnuptial agreement could protect your inheritance and possibly your marriage.

A marital agreement can protect specific property

Drafting a postnuptial agreement will typically involve negotiations where both spouses make concessions or ask to protect specific assets. For an agreement to hold up under scrutiny in the family courts, it will typically need to include terms that are beneficial for both parties.

Provided the two of you reach an agreement, you can make it clear that your inheritance will be separate and not part of your marital estate. If you eventually divorce, you won’t need to worry about your ex trying to lay claim to your inherited property.

The understanding that the inheritance won’t be subject to division can sometimes remove a financial incentive for divorce. Some couples will find that negotiating a prenuptial agreement actually helps them stave off a possible future divorce and recommit to their relationship.

Proper financial separation is still important

Even if you negotiate a thorough postnuptial agreement before the end of the probate process, you could still danger some of your inheritance by transferring it to marital accounts or giving your spouse direct control over those assets. Taking the time to establish separate accounts and the right ownership paperwork will minimize the possibility of losing some of your inheritance if you ever do divorce.

Overall, your inheritance could improve your standard of living and take some of the financial strain off of your marriage. Still, that doesn’t mean you should have to share those resources with your spouse, especially if they choose to divorce you later. Drafting a marital agreement when anticipating an inheritance will protect those assets and the wishes of your deceased loved one.


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