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How to keep that inheritance as separate property

You got $500,000 from your parents, as an inheritance. Your spouse is now asking for a divorce, and he or she is claiming $250,000, saying it's marital property that you were both going to use.

You're shocked. Surely that money only belongs to you, right? It's clear that your parents would never have wanted to spend their lives saving up $250,000 for your ex to take on the way out the door.

It may still be yours alone. To a large degree, it depends what you did with it during the marriage.

If you kept the money apart from your other assets, it's easier to prove that it's just yours. For instance, maybe you invested it in a retirement portfolio to which only you had access. Your spouse had his or her own retirement plan through work. This was yours.

If you commingled the money into your joint accounts, though, it's harder to prove that it's yours. Commingling -- mixing assets together -- can turn them into marital property because you and your spouse both had access to them.

For instance, maybe you used $50,000 as a down payment on your home, and you used another $50,000 to do renovations. Then you put $300,000 into a joint retirement account, and you put the other $100,000 into your joint checking account simply to pay the bills. In essence, you were gifting that money to your spouse by putting it into assets that he or she also owned or by putting it into accounts he or she could use at will.

Cases like this can grow very complex, and it's important to know all of your legal options to protect your own assets -- especially if you were counting on that money to retire.

Source: Daily Worth, "Property Division in Divorce – Gifts and Inheritance," Jeff Landers, accessed March 02, 2018

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