Inheritances: Protecting your inheritance in divorce

With a high-asset divorce, you may be concerned about many things. You may have assets like businesses, properties or a high income. These are all things you probably want to protect, and your attorney can help you do so by defining what is separate property and what is marital property.

One thing you may be interested to know about is your rights to any inheritances you receive during your marriage. In most cases, inheritances aren't subject to equitable distribution, because they are not considered to be marital property by law. Instead, they're seen as separate property and belong solely to the person who received the inheritance.

However, if you share your inheritance, it may become marital property, although how much of it is marital property may vary by state. If you put your inheritance into a joint account, for one example, you may cause the inheritance to lose its immunity and become marital property. If you use the inheritance to improve the home or spend it on joint property, then that may also make the inheritance lose its immunity and become marital property.

If you enter a marriage with an inheritance, your inheritance may or may not be protected. It's a good idea to have a prenuptial agreement in that case to identify the funds, but you may also find that the state recognizes the funds as a joint asset if you comingle the funds. Essentially, remember to keep your inheritance separate if you don't want to share it with your spouse in the case of a divorce, otherwise, it could become shared property.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance and Divorce," accessed May 06, 2016

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  • The Law Office of Daniel E. Forrest represents individuals in Fort Lauderdale in high-asset divorce matters. Daniel Forrest is board-certified family lawyer and mediator serving the South Florida area.
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