If you’re getting divorced, you have to divide your assets. One of the most valuable assets that you own could be an inheritance. In fact, many people find that their inheritance is more valuable than the other assets that they purchased themselves.
In other words, both you and your spouse may be very interested in what happens to this inheritance during the divorce. Do you have to split it with your ex or do you get to keep it yourself?
Understanding separate and marital assets
The first thing to know is that your inheritance will probably start as a separate asset. This means that you do own it and your spouse does not. If that status hasn’t been changed, then you don’t have to divide it during the divorce. The court will understand that your parents wanted the inheritance to go to you specifically, and you will get to keep it.
However, it is possible to change the status. One way to do this is by commingling your inheritance with shared funds. Maybe your parents gave you a purely financial inheritance and you deposited it in your joint bank account. Maybe you used it to buy a shared asset, like a family home that you and your spouse both own together. If the inheritance has been commingled in this fashion, then you essentially extended that gift and ownership to your spouse. This can turn the inheritance into a marital asset that has to be shared.
As you may imagine, disputes over the status of an inheritance are common. If you find yourself in this position, be sure you know what legal steps to take.