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Could divorce put your inheritance at risk?


Could divorce put your inheritance at risk?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2021 | family law |

Your family has always worked in the oil and gas industry, and your parents have a lot of wealth that you know they’re planning to pass on to you. This inheritance, when it comes, may help to fund your retirement or allow you to leave money to your own children. 

That said, you are married, and you know that divorce is always a possibility in any marriage. If you get that inheritance and then your spouse files for divorce, can they take the inheritance as their own?

An inheritance is generally considered separate property

Typically, inheritance is viewed more like a direct gift, meaning that it is the recipient’s separate property. You own it. Your spouse does not. This is obviously what your parents wanted, of course, and you do not have to worry that your spouse can simply file for divorce the next day to take half of the family fortune. 

That said, your inheritance can become marital property. You can commingle your inheritance with your other assets. This could be done by putting your money into a joint investment account or a joint bank account, for instance, which gives your spouse equal access. It could be done by paying joint bills, like the balance of a shared mortgage out of that money. When you allow your spouse to use the inheritance money, it becomes shared property — and it may need to be divided in a divorce. 

High-asset divorce cases can be complicated

These high-asset cases can be very complex, as both you and your spouse may feel you have a right to the money. Be very sure you understand your legal options to protect your future and your assets.