Law Offices of Barry I. Finkel, P.A.
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Will divorce cost you your inheritance?

As you move toward a divorce, you know that you and your spouse need to split up your assets. That's fine with you for much of what you own, as you bought it jointly anyway -- your home, your car, etc. You also both make roughly the same amount of money, so splitting up earnings and savings seems fair.

What concerns you is your inheritance, which your parents left to you. Does your spouse get to claim part of it? Will you lose your parents' money at the end of your marriage?

Often, the answer is no. The court understands that the inheritance was for you, not your ex, and the family money stays in the family. They look at it as separate property, not marital property, because that money would have gone to you whether you were married or not.

However, there are times when your spouse may have a claim. Was the check written out to both of you? Did you share the inheritance? Did you use it to buy something that you both own -- such as putting a down payment on a home?

You can commingle an inheritance, which is when you take separate property and combine it with marital property. Maybe you kept all of your money in the same bank account, for example. When your spouse was able to share it with you during the marriage, they may claim that commingling turned it into marital property -- no matter what your parents wanted -- and make a claim.

With complex financial matters, make sure you know exactly what steps to take.

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