An inheritance is usually much more than just some property or money from a loved one — it is a last parting gift that carries significant emotional value. No one would make an active attempt at putting their inheritance at risk, but many people do just that without even realizing it. This is because how one manages his or her inheritance determines whether it will be divided up between spouses during divorce.
Most assets acquired during a marriage are joint marital property, but inheritances are considered separate property regardless of someone’s marital status. Separate property stays with its respective owner after a divorce. However, commingling an inheritance with marital assets will most likely cause it to shift from separate to marital property.
For example, it might appear as if an inheritance was shared with a spouse if an heir deposits inherited money into a joint bank account. Keeping assets separate is usually key to protecting inheritances, so opening a personal account is generally a good idea. This does not provide total protection, however. Even if kept in a separate account, using inherited money for marital expenses can also appear as commingling.
Protecting one’s inheritance is important. For some people in Florida, this may mean using either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to make sure that it remains separate property no matter what. Those who are already in the divorce process or are ready to file may need a little more help and guidance when it comes to keeping their inheritances out of property division.