For many people, inheriting property from parents, grandparents or other loved ones is an emotional prospect. If you decide to divorce, the idea of selling or sharing that property with your ex-spouse is upsetting. Luckily, most inheritance is considered separate property.
In most cases, any inheritance you receive—even during the marriage—remains separate property. However, there are certain actions you can take which transmute the property into marital property.
First, you can “commingle” the inheritance with marital assets. For instance, if you inherit money and put it into a joint account, that will likely transmute it into marital property. Your lawyer can make the argument that you never intended for it to become marital property, but it may not be effective.
Similarly, if you inherit a house, move your spouse in and put their name on the deed, it’s probably considered a marital asset at that point. Even if you don’t move them in and put their name on the deed, they may still be entitled to a share. For example, if your spouse contributed to home improvements that increased the house’s value, they may be entitled to a share of that increased value.
In other words, if you don’t want an asset to be considered marital property, make sure that you keep it separate throughout your marriage.
Assets inherited after divorce are typically not subject to marital division, except in very rare circumstances. However, it may be a compelling legal reason to increase child or spousal support.
Finally, prenups can designate how the couple wishes inheritances to be divided in case of divorce. If you’ve entered into a legally binding and enforceable prenuptial agreement regarding inheritances, that should make property division easier.
Call the experienced divorce attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN for a consultation today.
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