When you get divorced, you typically have both separate property and marital property. Marital property has to be divided between you and your ex. It includes money that you earned during the marriage and assets that you purchased. For example, jointly owned homes and cars are marital assets, along with bank accounts and investment portfolios.
Separate property, on the other hand, means that it doesn’t have to be divided. This is property that only one of you has a claim to. Most of the time, this means that you owned it before you got married and brought that property with you to the marriage.
But what about an inheritance? Say that your parents pass away after you’ve already gotten married, and they leave you an inheritance. Is it a separate property that you get to keep because it was given to you? Or is it marital property since you got it while you were married?
Has it been commingled?
As a general rule, the courts will assume that an inheritance is separate property. Your parents wanted you to receive it, and it will typically stay with you even if you get divorced. If your parents left you $10 million, for example, your spouse could not file for divorce the next day and take $5 million with them.
But this does change if the assets have been commingled or mixed. For instance, maybe you used the inheritance to buy a home together, that both you and your spouse own. Or maybe you stored the inheritance in a shared investment account that your spouse also used. In a case like that, the inheritance becomes marital property.
This can make for a somewhat complicated situation. Make sure you know exactly what steps to take as you go through your divorce.