What Happens to Your Inheritance or Gift During a Divorce?

What Happens to Your Inheritance or Gift During a Divorce?

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In general, any asset or item you directly inherited, whether before or during your marriage, is considered separate property. Thus, you solely own them and divorce may not put them at risk of division, depending on how you got them. If you are going through a divorce, you need to understand what happens to your inheritance and how you can protect it. 

Ownership of Inherited Assets

Who owns inherited assets depends on why they were bequeathed. If the inheritance was intended for a person, then this person is its sole owner. But, if the inheritance was bequeathed to benefit both spouses in a marriage, the court may consider it joint property. An inheritance that becomes marital property will be subject to property division during divorce. Conversely, depositing marital property in a separate property account can have it become a part of this account. 

No matter how ownership of the inheritance starts, it can be converted into community property if it is commingled, which means integrating it with a jointly held property. An example of comingling assets is depositing an amount of money received as a gift into a joint savings account that a couple owns. Proving that the spouse who originally owned the inheritance did not mean to share the assets they deposited into a joint account can be very hard, though not impossible. It is important to speak with a Mankato divorce attorney about arguments and evidence that must be presented to reclaim sole ownership. 

Can a Spouse Claim the Inheritance their Ex Received After Divorce?

Although a spouse cannot come after an inheritance their ex received after their divorce, they can petition for an increase of their spousal support in the court based on this inheritance. Often, courts permit spousal support modification for different reasons such as a disability of a spouse or child, job loss, a change in financial status. But, a spouse should see whether inheritance is viewed as a possible basis to request a modification. Their divorce attorney can help them with this.   

How to Prove Separate Property

A spouse can use certain evidence to prove their inheritance must be considered separate property. This includes ensuring they continue to own the property solely in a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement. Either agreement can lay out understandings on separate and marital property. Also, an inheritance owner must keep any documentation they have about investment accounts, bank accounts, and tax returns because these can serve as proof of the donor’s intention to give the inheritance only to them. 

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