An Advocate In Family Law Cases

Do you have to split your inheritance with your ex?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2024 | Property Division

If your parents gave you an inheritance during your marriage, and you are now getting divorced, you likely do not want to split that money with your ex. You want it to stay in your family.

At the same time, the inheritance may be substantial. Perhaps you and your ex were both going to use it as your retirement fund. As a result, your ex claims that they do have a right to that inheritance and that you have to divide it with them. Who is right?

Was the inheritance commingled?

The first question to ask is if the inheritance was given just to you or to you and your ex jointly. If it was given just to you, then it starts out as a separate asset. This would mean that you do not have to divide it with your spouse. Only marital assets are subject to property division. 

But that status is a separate asset may have been lost if the inheritance was commingled. This is when you use the money for joint purchases or you store it in accounts that both you and your ex can access. This amounts to sharing the gift with your spouse, which then gives them a right to the money, as well.

The best way to protect an inheritance is to keep it separate. Some people will put in a trust. Others will establish a special bank account or investment portfolio specifically for that inheritance and only in their name.

Moving forward

What this means is that the crux of the issue is going to be whether or not the court determines that you have commingled your inheritance. You and your ex certainly may not agree on the status or whether or not it has to be divided, leading to property division disputes. If so, take the time to carefully look into your legal options.