Is Inheritance Divided in a Divorce?

August 11, 2017 — by John Conger
Tags: Divorce Family Law

A large, inherited houseDivorce is often a difficult, complicated matter. When a large inheritance is involved, the division of assets can be particularly complex. This can create many questions for both parties involved, like “will my inheritance be divided?” or “will I be entitled to a portion of my spouse's inheritance?” When dealing with these questions, it is important to contact a divorce lawyer experienced in high assets to ensure you receive the assets you're entitled to in your separation.

The divorce lawyers of Shore, McKinley & Conger, LLP have decades of experience in dealing with high asset divorce and inheritance cases in and around Stockton, CA.

About Inheritance and Marriage

Inheritance is generally not considered marital property and is said to belong to the person who received the inheritance. However, once an inheritance is shared between a married party, state laws vary and often allow for funds to be divided between parties in a divorce.

For example, when an inheritance is used to pay for joint marital expenses in a joint bank account, referred to as “commingling of the inheritance,” the inheritance may be subject to division in a divorce. In other words, anytime an inheritance is used to the benefit of both partners during the marriage, the inheritance may no longer be considered separate property and may therefore be considered for division between both parties during a divorce.

What If an Inheritance Was Acquired Prior to Marriage?

It's not uncommon for one or both spouses to enter a marriage with prior inheritance or wealth. Although state laws determine exactly how an inheritance acquired prior to marriage is handled in the event of a divorce, it is possible for a previously acquired inheritance to be subject to division in a divorce if commingling, as described above, has occurred. If commingling has not occurred, an inheritance acquired prior to marriage may be considered separate property and not subject to division in a divorce.

Protecting Commingled Funds

In some cases, inheritance may have been commingled but there was no intent to share it. Although commingling of funds generally turns an inheritance into marital property, it may be possible to maintain some or all of an inheritance as separate property if it can be shown that funds from the inheritance were never intended to be shared. The best way to prove that commingled inheritance was not shared or there was no intent to share is to seek the assistance of an experienced high asset divorce lawyer.

Contact Our High Asset Divorce Lawyers

If you are concerned about how a divorce will affect your inheritance or your access to your spouse's inheritance, you are encourage to contact our high asset divorce lawyers. Our divorce attorneys are experienced in high net worth divorce and the complexities such cases present. We are committed to working diligently to protect our clients' interests throughout the divorce process and are here to help you during your time of need.