Am I Entitled to My Spouse’s Inheritance?

The end of a marriage is never an easy time.  Even the most amicable of divorces will require both parties to handle some challenging emotions.  In addition to the emotional Coinsdifficulties, the parties face financial and logistical challenges.  The spouses will need to understand and properly follow the appropriate steps to file for divorce and make sure the other party is properly served, just to name the first step.  Financially, each spouse will need to rearrange their budget and adjust to living life as a single person.  The spouses will have to divide their assets and their debts.  In some cases, the assets could be substantial.  If your spouse received an inheritance during your marriage, you may be wondering if you are entitled to divide the inheritance during your divorce.

In general, the rule is that property received or earned during the marriage is marital property, and is subject to an equitable division by the court.  However, there is a major exception to this rule: any property received by either spouse by inheritance during the marriage is considered separate property.  Separate property is not subject to division through the divorce.

All that said, the inquiry does not end there.  Separate property can easily change into marital property, depending on how you and your spouse have treated the inheritance.  If you and your spouse have mixed the inheritance together with marital property, it is likely that the inheritance is no longer separate property and you will be entitled to an equitable division.  For example, if your wife inherited $10,000 and promptly deposited that money into your joint checking account, it is likely that the property will not be divided.  However, if your wife deposited that money into an account solely in her name and never allowed you access to that cash, the money is likely still separate property and not subject to division.  Spouses claiming that property has changed from separate to marital should keep in mind that the courts in Minnesota will make an equitable division of assets.  Equitable does not always mean equal.  In other words, even if you are able to prove the inheritance is now marital property, the court is not obligated to divide it equally between you and your spouse.

If you have questions about divorce and property division, let us answer them.  Call us today at 651-371-9117 and talk with us about your divorce.

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