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Can your ex claim your inheritance?

You and your spouse got married in 2005. In 2015, your parents left you an inheritance of $250,000. Now you're thinking about getting divorced, and you want to know if your ex has any claim to that money.

After all, your parents saved it up. You feel that it's clear they'd want the money to stay in the family, not leave with an ex who may just get remarried. At the same time, you know that your marital assets have to get divided.

The good news is that, if you kept your inheritance separate, it's likely not a marital asset at all. It's your own separate property, and you don't have to split it with your ex.

Now, the issue you may face is if you commingled those funds with the rest of your money. Mixing it into your other funds or spending it for marital purchases could turn it into marital property because it's clear that your spouse was realistically allowed to use it during the marriage. That makes it a marital asset.

So the question is simple: What did you do with that inheritance? If you opened up a savings account in your own name and left it there, it's likely still yours. If you and your ex used it for a down payment on the house and you kept it in your joint checking account, you likely have to split it up.

It's important to understand how this works before you get divorced, but you also want to make sure you know all of your rights as you move forward with the split. This helps you understand and protect what is really yours.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance and Divorce," accessed Jan. 23, 2018

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