When a loved one dies, he or she might leave assets to a Rockville resident. If the heir is married but the other spouse was not mentioned by the decedent, whether the inherited assets become part of the marital estate is not automatically clear-cut. If the parties divorce, it will be necessary to make a determination regarding the inheritance during the property division part of the process.
Inheritances are generally considered to be the separate property of the spouse who received it. However, if the assets are “commingled,” all or a portion of them could no longer be considered separate property. When assets are commingled, they are either deposited into a marital account or used to pay the joint expenses of the parties. If any of the inheritance is used to make repairs or improvements to the marital home, the inheritance could become marital property.
The best way to protect an inheritance from being considered part of the marital estate is to keep it in a separate account and not use it for any marital expenses. A prenuptial agreement can identify any inheritances received prior to the marriage as separate property. Further, the parties can agree that any received during the marriage are to be considered separate property as well.
Rockville residents who are concerned about their inheritances maybe being subject to the property division phase of a divorce proceeding should take the necessary precautions to protect them. However, if the assets were never intended to be shared, it might be possible to combat that assumption in court. Whether you are trying to avoid an inheritance being commingled or fighting to prove that any commingling was unintentional, it would be beneficial to discuss the matter with an attorney to learn the options.