Passing on family heirlooms and wealth is a time-honored tradition that many people in Colorado take quite seriously. Protecting these heirlooms is serious business, too. However, you may encounter a situation in which your inheritance could be on the line — divorce.
During divorce, you will have to divide your marital property with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Marital property is anything that the two of you own jointly. In general, this includes all of the assets and income you acquired over the course of the marriage. There are exceptions though, including inheritances.
Is my inheritance marital property?
Inheritances are tricky when it comes to deciding whether they are marital or separate property. Your separate property is anything that you solely own and that you do not have to divide during divorce. Like most people, you would probably prefer your inheritance to be your own separate property.
Unless bequeathed to both you and your spouse, your inheritance should be separate property. This is because an inheritance is something gifted directly to you. However, you must be cautious in how you treat your inheritance.
Treat your inheritance carefully
While it might start out as separate property, your inheritance can actually make the switch to marital property. This can happen when you deposit your inheritance into a joint bank account or use the funds for marital purposes, such as:
- Joint bills
- House maintenance
- Groceries for the family
Mixing your inheritance — a separate asset — with your marital assets is commingling. When you mix these assets together, they will not make your marital assets become separate property. Instead, your assets will become marital property and be up for division during divorce.
What about other gifts?
An inheritance might not be the only gift you receive during your marriage. The rules are generally the same, though. If a friend or family member gifts assets or money directly to you, it will be separate property and not subject to division unless you commingle the assets.
Divorce is both a legally and emotionally challenging process. What may make things even worse is potentially losing your inheritance during the property division process. Learning more about how Colorado family law addresses things like property division, spousal support and more may be helpful if you are eager to protect your financial interests during your divorce.