When a parent or other family member bequeaths something in their will, they likely intend for that inheritance to help their loved one after they die. Most families keep the inheritance to direct relatives and not the spouses of children or grandchildren.
If someone you love left you a significant inheritance during your marriage, will you have to split your inheritance with your spouse now that you are divorcing them?
New Jersey usually treats inherited property as separate property
There are only two categories of property that really matter in divorce proceedings. Marital property is typically subject to division under New Jersey’s property laws, while separate property probably won’t be divided in a divorce.
Your property from before your marriage is usually separate property. Any inheritance left to one spouse is also separate property in most cases. However, there are scenarios in which your spouse may have a claim to at least some of your inherited property when you divorce.
To claim separate property, you must keep it separate
The most important thing someone can do with inherited property is to ensure that it remains separate from their marital property. If you receive a significant financial inheritance, depositing those assets in to a shared bank account might give your spouse a claim to those assets in a divorce.
Commingling of valuable physical assets can also occur. If your spouse helps physically maintain or pay for a vehicle, house or other inherited assets, their contributions to its value may give them a partial claim to the property.
Reviewing your financial records carefully will give you a better idea about what claim if any your spouse can make against your inherited property if you divorce. An experienced family law attorney can provide valuable guidance for your specific situation.