Receiving An Inheritance? How To Ensure Your Spouse Can't Claim Half

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If you have recently found out that you're receiving an inheritance from a deceased family member, you might be faced with questions about how to protect that inheritance from your spouse in the event of a divorce. The good news is that your inheritance doesn't automatically have to become community property. In fact, there are a few things that you can do that may help you keep your inheritance secure and protect it from any claims during a divorce proceeding.

Keep The Funds Separate

The most important thing that you need to consider if you're trying to preserve your inheritance is that you need to keep the funds separate from your marital assets. For example, if you've received a large sum of money, don't deposit it into your joint bank account. Doing so automatically makes those funds community or marital property.

Instead, establish a separate account in just your name to keep the inheritance money in. Don't use that money as a means to support your household or to contribute to family expenses, because those actions give way to an argument that you intended the money to be family money.

Consider A Trust

Whether you've been given a large sum of money or even property, talk with an inheritance lawyer about the benefits of putting the assets into a trust. When you establish a trust, it's only accessible by those who are designated on the trust account itself. That means that your spouse would have no legal claim to the assets in the trust in the event of a divorce or even in the event of your death. Your inheritance lawyer can walk you through the process, including determining a beneficiary for the trust account.

Evaluate Your Pre-Nuptial Agreement

You may also want to talk with the inheritance lawyer about any existing pre-nuptial agreement that you and your spouse signed. In many cases, these agreements define what happens with an inheritance that's received after the marriage. Make sure you fully understand the terms of the pre-nuptial agreement because it is a binding contract on its own.

These are just some of the things you should consider if you're trying to protect an inheritance from your spouse in the event of separation and divorce. Remember that anything you inherit directly is considered yours and is not community property if you handle it correctly. Talk with your inheritance lawyer about these points to see how you should proceed.

Contact an inheritance lawyer for more information.