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How you can accidentally give up an inheritance in a divorce 

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Property Division

In many divorce cases, an inheritance that you received from your parents is not in jeopardy. It is considered a separate asset. As such, you do not have to divide it with your spouse and you get to keep all of the money or other assets that your parents left you.

However, there are things that you can do to change the status of this inheritance, and some people even do them accidentally. One example of this is if you commingled that inheritance. Doing this could mean that your spouse now does have a claim and you have to divide it if you get divorced. How would this happen?

Mixing it with other funds can be a disaster

What generally happens is that someone mixes the money from the inheritance with other funds that they have. For instance, maybe you and your spouse use a joint bank account together, which is then used to do things like paying your mortgage or depositing your paychecks. If you put the inheritance into the same fund, it becomes indistinguishable from the other financial assets in that account, and it has been commingled.

You may say that you would still know how much was given to you as an inheritance initially, but the problem is that the money cannot always be differentiated. Even if that total is still in the account, for instance, how do you prove that you were using your income to pay the bills, rather than using your inheritance to pay the bills and saving your income? 

It may sound like an academic exercise, but it can determine who has the right to that money, so it’s very important to understand how this works. You also need to know what legal options you have at your disposal.