How Are Inheritances Treated In Divorce In Chester County?
Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things a person will ever go through. For some though, the loss also comes with an inheritance and this can seem like a dream come true. People sometimes receive large sums of money or other property when a loved one dies and leaves them an inheritance, and this can be very helpful, particularly with so many people facing financial uncertainty these days. However, if you are going to get a divorce, it is important to know how the court will treat your inheritance, and what you can do to protect it.
Inheritances are Generally Protected in Divorce
While any property acquired by the couple during the marriage is considered marital property, and therefore subject to the property division laws of the state, the same is not true for inheritances. An inheritance is usually given to just one person and so, the law views it the same. However, while the law will generally protect your inheritance during your divorce, this can change depending on what you do with it.
Actions that Put an Inheritance at Risk of Division
Whether or not your inheritance is considered marital property largely depends on how you spend it. For example, if you purchase a sports car after receiving your inheritance, but before you divorce, the vehicle is going to be considered marital property. Also, if you place your inheritance in a joint bank account, those funds become commingled with marital funds and the entire account will be considered marital property and subject to division.
If you do not inherit money but rather, property, such as a home, the court will deem it as marital property if you put your spouse’s name on the title with yours. Even if you leave your spouse’s name off of the title when you inherit the property, any increase of value that occurs during the marriage is considered marital property.
For example, you may inherit a home after a loved one passes. You and your spouse live in the home but the title is in your name only. If you remain married for the next ten years before getting a divorce, and the home has increased in value over that time, the increase is considered marital property while the home is considered separate property.
How to Protect Your Inheritance
The best way to protect your inheritance is to keep it completely separate from any marital property. If you receive a lump sum of money, open a separate account and keep it in there so it does not become commingled with marital funds. If you receive assets other than money, such as real estate, jewelry, or an art collection, keep any and all paperwork you receive that shows you are the sole owner of that property.
Our Family Lawyer in Chester County Can Protect Your Rights
If you are getting a divorce, our Philadelphia family lawyer at the Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane will provide the legal advice you need, and protect your best interests throughout the entire process. Call us today at 215-918-9453 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.