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What you need to know about inheritance and divorce

If you decide to move forward with divorce, questions often arise regarding whether one party has the right to another person's inheritance that was received during the marriage.

While not always the case, inheritances are not typically subject to equitable distribution. In other words, the person who received the inheritance can likely keep all the money, as this is not considered martial property.

Even so, there is something to remember: Each state has its own set of laws to determine how inheritance is treated if it has already been shared among the partners. For example, what will happen if the inheritance is moved into a join bank account? In this case, the money will probably lose its immunity.

This brings one word to mind: comingling. If the money is used in a joint manner, the inheritance can no longer be considered separate. Subsequently, it is subject to division between both partners in the event of a divorce.

Other questions to answer, based on your particular situation, include:

-- What happens if one party received the inheritance before getting married?

-- What if the money was comingled, but one party never had the intention of sharing the inheritance with the other?

As you can see, there may be questions to address that are specific to your situation. If you received an inheritance in the past, you should expect it to be a topic of discussion during the divorce process. You need to know your rights, including whether or not you can keep all the money or if you have to divide it with your former spouse.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance and Divorce," accessed Oct. 08, 2015

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