Preserving an Inheritance During a Divorce

During the course of your marriage, you may inherit certain assets or property from loved ones, either after they pass away or while they are still alive. Although in most states these inherited items are considered the separate property of the individual who received them, Connecticut is one of a handful of states that generally considers them shared assets. This means that inheritances are likely to be factored into the division of marital property if you are seeking a divorce from your spouse.

For example, if you inherit a piece of valuable jewelry from a relative, you’ll likely be able to keep it after your divorce. However, the value of that item will be considered when dividing your marital property, and thus you might be penalized when it comes to splitting other assets and property you owned jointly with your spouse.

One of the best ways to avoid this issue ahead of time is to sign, along with your spouse, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement stating that each partner will be able to keep assets or property he or she inherits separately. These agreements can also mandate that these items will not be considered in any potential property division process in case a divorce occurs sometime in the future. Although many couples avoid signing prenuptial or postnuptial agreements due to the perception that they’re unromantic and represent a lack of trust in a relationship, they also come with added peace of mind for both spouses.

If you’ve inherited money, one way to distinguish these assets as your own is to open and maintain a separate bank account. The objective is not to hide this money from your spouse, but rather to ensure that you are both clear as to whom the assets belong. In most situations, assets that have remained separately yours throughout the marriage will not be subject to the property division process.

When there are large amounts of assets involved, especially inherited property, going through a divorce can be a complicated process. To learn more about your options and rights, speak with a skilled Stamford divorce attorney at Siegel, Reilly & Kaufman, LLC.