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Can I keep my inheritance in a divorce?

When a couple divorces, there are a great number of assets and finances that must be divided. Couples fight over the house, the cars, retirement accounts and even the antique bowls Grandma gave them. But one of the most common questions regarding property division in divorce is what happens to inheritances. Are inheritances subject to division? If you divorce, will you be able to keep an inheritance that was left to you by a relative?

The answer to that is dependent on a couple factors. Generally speaking, inheritances are not considered marital property. That's because inheritances are typically left to one person, not a couple. However, if the funds are "commingled," there's a good chance they'll be considered marital property.

For example, let's say Aunt Mildred leaves you $20,000 in her will. You take that 20k and deposit it into a bank account you share with your spouse. Now you've commingled the funds and the court will consider it subject to division should you divorce. The same could be said if, rather than deposit the money directly, you use it to get work done on any property you share with your spouse.

What if you commingled the funds by accident, never intending them to be used by your spouse? In this case, the courts will allow you to make an argument, but this can be difficult. You'll be asked to prove that the funds weren't ever meant to be shared.

If you have questions about how your inheritance will be affected by divorce, or any other property division matters, it might be a wise decision to sit down with an attorney.

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