You’ve always done well for yourself in your career, as has your spouse. You didn’t need your parents’ inheritance money, per se, but it still has tremendous value. You’ve always assumed you’d use it during retirement or perhaps leave it to your own children and grandchildren to help with college tuition, buying a home, etc.
But what if your marriage doesn’t last? If your spouse files for divorce, do you have to give them the inheritance? Whether you need it or not hardly matters. It’s a substantial amount of money and you feel that it was always intended for you and your family. Does your spouse really get to take a portion of it?
Did you share it previously?
Here’s what you need to ask yourself: Did you share that inheritance in any way when you were married?
For instance, maybe you used some of the money to put a new roof on your house. Since that house is already a marital asset, your spouse can argue that you commingled the inheritance by using it on the project, giving them a claim to that fund.
An easier example is perhaps if you put it into an account that both of you owned. This could be an investment account where you and your spouse watched your money grow. Allowing your spouse to have a portion of the interest may not be enough. They may claim that they have a right to every cent in that account, which now needs to be divided between the two of you.
On the other hand, if you did not share the money and kept it separate from your other assets, then your spouse loses this claim. The court may not rule that you get to keep the inheritance in its entirety, even though you have to divide up the other assets that you own.
A financially complex divorce
You may be in for a complex divorce with a lot of financial implications. It’s critical to know exactly what options you have and how to work to keep the assets that belong to you.