Do I Have to Share My Inheritance with My Husband?


You’ve received an inheritance. And you know that most property is considered marital property. But does that count for an inheritance that you receive directly? In most cases, no, but there are some issues that could complicate things — such as co-mingling the inheritance with household funds.

Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at whether you have to share your inheritance with a spouse and what you should do to protect your assets even within your marriage.

Do You Need to Share an Inheritance With a Spouse?

Generally speaking, you do not need to share an inheritance with a spouse. An inheritance is considered separate property and remains so even after marriage. There are some exceptions to this rule, but they’re relatively rare. For example, if you inherited the money or property from your spouse’s family, it would likely be considered marital property rather than separate property.

But what if you use the inheritance to help pay for marital expenses? Or worse, co-mingle it with your spouse’s funds? In most cases, this will be treated as a gift from one spouse to another and will become marital property. This could lead to some serious complications down the road, so it’s important to take steps to protect your inheritance from being absorbed into your marital estate.

Protecting Your Inheritance

There are a few things you can do to protect your inheritance from becoming part of your marital estate. First, keep it in a separate bank account or investment portfolio. This will help demonstrate that the money is yours and not subject to division if you ever go through a divorce.

You can also use a prenuptial agreement to protect your inheritance. This is a legal document that outlines which assets are considered separate property and which are marital property. If you already have children, you may also want to consider creating a trust account. This will help ensure that your children inherit the money or property directly, rather than it going through your spouse first.

What Should You Do If You Know You’re About to Receive an Inheritance?

If you’re expecting to receive an inheritance, it’s important to talk to a lawyer about your options. There may be steps you can take to protect the money or property from becoming part of your marital estate. And if you’re already married, there are still things you can do to ensure that your inheritance remains yours and yours alone.

If you’re about to receive an inheritance from your family, for instance, you can have them draft a trust. This document will outline how the inheritance is to be distributed upon their death. It cannot be overruled by marriage, because the inheritance is the trust’s property.

If it’s too late to create a trust, you can also create a separate bank account or investment portfolio to hold the inheritance, which will help keep it from being co-mingled with marital funds. It’s very important that the funds remain yours and yours only; otherwise, you cannot argue that it wasn’t a part of the marriage.

Why Wouldn’t You Want to Share Inheritance With Your Spouse?

There are some sensible reasons why you might want to keep your assets apart from your spouse. For one, if you go through a divorce, your spouse will have fewer grounds to argue that the inheritance should be split in half. This is especially important if the inheritance is your only source of financial security.

Additionally, keeping your assets separate can help maintain your estate planning goals. If you want specific assets to pass directly to your children (or other heirs), it’s easier to do when those assets are kept separate from your spouse.

Finally, if your spouse is undergoing some form of debt or wage garnishment, you don’t want that inheritance included in their settlements. If your spouse has legal issues, for instance, an inherited marital property might need to go toward legal settlements. But if your inheritance is just yours alone, it will not.

Key Takeaways: The Most Common Mistakes With Inheritance and Marriage

There are a few common mistakes people make when it comes to inheritance and marriage:

  • Co-mingling inherited money with marital funds. This can be very difficult to untangle down the road, especially if you go through a divorce.
  • Not thinking about the potential for inheritance before you get married. You need to consider getting a prenuptial agreement drafted if you may potentially inherit a lot.
  • Not taking steps to protect the inheritance from becoming part of your marital estate. This could lead to serious complications if you ever divorce.
  • Not properly utilizing trust accounts. Trust accounts are an extremely valuable estate management tool that an estate planning attorney can help with.
  • Not talking to a lawyer about your options. If you’re expecting an inheritance, there are steps you can take to protect it from becoming part of your marital estate. And even if you’re already married, there are still things you can do to ensure that the inheritance remains yours and yours alone.
  • Making promises regarding inherited funds. If you have a written note saying, for instance, that you’re going to use the inheritance to pay off your mortgage, your spouse may still be able to argue for a portion of the funds.

So, here’s the bottom line: don’t do anything regarding your inheritance until you get professional help.

Get Professional Help Regarding Your Inheritance

No matter what you do, it’s important to talk to an attorney about your specific situation. Every family is different and there may be other factors that need to be taken into account. An experienced lawyer can help you create a plan to protect your inheritance and make sure that it doesn’t get combined with your marital estate. If you have questions about your inheritance, contact the professionals at Trapp Law today.


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