One of the more complicated parts of the divorce process is dividing your property. During the marriage, you likely comingled your assets. You may have shared a bank account and paid bills using money you both earned. However, when you divorce, you have to separate everything into what is yours and what is your spouses. This can get complex, especially if you have property that you want to make sure you keep, such as an inheritance.
The good news, according to Her Money, is that inheritance is almost always separate property under divorce laws. However, if you, for example, put your inheritance into your joint bank account, then it becomes marital property that the court will divide fairly between you and your spouse. This is because you comingled it with marital funds.
To protect inheritances, you need to put them in a separate account with just your name on it. You also should not use your inheritance to make any joint purchases. Once you do that, it makes it marital property, which the court will divide along with your other property.
Of course, if you received your inheritance many years ago, it is probably too late to stop comingling. Once an inheritance becomes marital property, you cannot change the status. Your only option may be to negotiate during the settlement process by giving up other assets of equal value so that you can keep your inheritance.
So, while inheritance starts off as separate property, there are moves you can make that would change that status to marital property. Once that happens, you have limited control over whether the court divides it during the divorce.