Say your largest asset is the inheritance your parents gave you. Outside of their physical assets, they left you enough money to retire comfortably. That’s been your plan, though you’re not at retirement age yet, so you haven’t started using the money.
Then your spouse files for a divorce, and suddenly you get nervous about the state of your retirement plans. Can your spouse take your inheritance in the divorce, even though it came from your parents?
Your inheritance is typically separate property
There is good news: Your inheritance typically belongs to you alone, as separate property, rather than to both you and your spouse. This means that it does not have to be divided with your other assets. You can keep the entire inheritance without losing it or other assets of equal value. Your retirement is safe.
That said, there are always exceptions; for example, if the inheritance was commingled. This basically means you mixed it with your other assets and allowed your spouse to use it, making it a marital asset. Perhaps you used some of the inheritance to pay joint bills. Maybe you put it into a joint savings account, where it was mixed with your other assets. Perhaps you allowed your spouse to access the separate account where you put the money. These actions may give your spouse a claim to at least part of that money.
Navigating the legal process in a divorce can be tricky
With your future on the line and so much money at stake, the legal process can get fairly complicated, so make sure you know what steps to take.