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Can your ex really take your inheritance?

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2022 | Divorce

You’re getting divorced and your ex wants to take the inheritance that your parents left you. After all, the two of you did get that inheritance just a few years ago, after you’d already gotten married. Both of you had big plans for it, and you can tell that they don’t want to lose out on the money because of the divorce.

What they are saying is that the inheritance has to be counted as a marital asset because you were married when you got it. Income is a marital asset, after all. But is this true?

Did you ever mix the inheritance with other funds?

It is true that money you earned during a marriage counts as a marital asset, but an inheritance is actually one of the exceptions. It can be counted as a separate asset or a marital asset, depending on the specifics of the situation. 

What you need to check is if you kept the inheritance separate during the course of your marriage. Maybe your parents just gave you a check, for instance, and you cashed it into a bank account.

If that bank account was one that was only in your name and that you created just for the inheritance, then you have kept it separate and it is still your asset alone. But if that bank account contains other funds that you and your spouse had earned, then you have commingled the money. In a case like that, your spouse may actually be able to claim that they get to take some of the inheritance when they become your ex.

Exploring your options

You can see that the financial side of a divorce can get very complicated and even contentious. It’s always wise to know what legal steps to take.