Can your ex take your inheritance?

Your upcoming divorce has you feeling nervous, but not because the relationship is ending. You asked for the divorce. You want the marriage to end. What you’re nervous about, though, is your inheritance. 

After all, your parents left you a substantial sum. You know that you have to divide marital assets with your spouse, but does that include your inheritance? Logically, it seems clear that your parents would want you to keep the money, rather than giving it to your ex, but what does the law say?

Overall, the law agrees with you that your parents would want that money to stay with you. You don’t have to divide it with your spouse. It is separate property, not marital property, and so it’s not subject to property division rules. The same can be true for some gifts and other such assets. 

When this gets complicated is if you shared the inheritance money with your spouse in any way. Even if it is not all gone, commingling — or mixing — your assets like this may mean that your spouse now has a claim to them. 

For instance, maybe you used the money to buy a home with cash. You cannot claim that the home, where you both lived, is now only your house. Or maybe you had a joint account, and you just put all of the money into that account so you could both take it out and use it when you wanted. You probably can’t just take the inheritance back out and claim that it now belongs only to you. 

These situations can get complex, and you need a legal team that understands your rights.

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