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Will your spouse take some of your inheritance when you divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 29, 2020 | Family Law

When you get married, you agree to merge your life, your finances and your household with another person. However, there may still be certain things that you want to keep for yourself. If your parents or grandparents left you a generous inheritance, for example, their intention was likely to provide for you and not for your spouse.

Wanting to keep those assets as your own in the event of a divorce is natural and normal. Still, it’s almost impossible to predict how the Tennessee family courts will split up your property in a pending divorce. Can your spouse lay claim to your inheritance in the divorce?

Who was listed in the last will or estate plan?

The first factor to consider when trying to determine if your inheritance is subject to division is whether your loved ones left your inheritance to only you or to you and your spouse. If only your name appears, then your inheritance is your separate property in most cases. If your loved ones left it to both of you, however, you will likely have to split your inheritance if you divorce.

When might you divide an inheritance in only your name?

Most of the time, the Tennessee family courts will treat an inheritance as separate property. That means that both the financial and physical assets you inherit from loved ones aren’t subject to division in your divorce. However, if you commingle your inheritance with marital assets, that could change the outcome of your divorce.

Commingling means placing financial assets in a joint account or otherwise mixing the assets received as an inheritance with your marital property. You can also be at risk if you give your spouse control over those resources, possibly by giving them a debit card.

Provided that you have maintained your inheritance in separate accounts without actually letting your spouse access it, even if you have spent money from the inheritance on them or the household, they likely won’t have a claim in court. Reviewing your financial situation with a family law attorney can give you a better idea of what assets will remain separate property and which ones will likely wind up divided when you divorce.