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How to Protect Your Inheritance From Your Spouse

When we pass away, we trust that our loved ones will divide our assets in accordance to our will. We choose the people that we give our belongings to very carefully, and if a loved one leaves us with an inheritance, we know that he or she put thought into that decision. However, this inheritance may be at risk during a divorce or even during the course of your marriage. If you are trying to protect your inheritance from your soon-to-be former spouse, you have several options available to you.

How Does Indiana Divide Inheritances?

When the divorce court is determining who gets what in a divorce, it will likely consider if the asset in question is the separate property or marital property. Separate property includes the following items.

• Property you or your spouse owned before marriage or obtained after separation.
• Inheritances you or your spouse received.
• Gifts you or your spouse received from a third party.
• Pain and suffering settlements in personal injury lawsuits.
• Separate property defined in any pre or post-nuptial agreement.

Marital property includes every other piece of property the court does not classify as separate.

Different states have different laws regarding the division of marital property during a divorce. Indiana is an equitable division state, which means that the court will divide property based on the following three factors.

• Whether you or your spouse owned the property before marriage.
• Whether you or your spouse acquired the property in your own right after the marriage and before the final separation.
• Whether you or your spouse acquired the property after the marriage and before the final separation as a joint effort.

When the court decides to divide the marital property, it establishes that each spouse has a legal claim to a fair and equitable portion of these assets. The court will determine how much of each asset you and your spouse can receive.

Depending on the circumstances of the inheritance, it may fall into either category – even though inheritances are often a form of separate property. This depends on whether or not you commingled the inheritance with other assets.

What Is Commingling?

Commingling is a term that refers to putting both separate and marital property in the same place. By combining the two types of assets, they become a form of marital property – and your separate property does not receive the same protection it normally would in a divorce.

For example, putting an inheritance in a shared bank account would be an instance of commingling. Using the inheritance funds for shared expenses, such as mortgages, car payments, and household expenses, is also a form of commingling,

If you want to protect your inheritance from becoming a piece of marital property, it is crucial that you do not commingle it with other marital assets. Do not put it in a shared bank account, do not invest it in marital property. Keep it separate and use it for yourself.

Acquiring Inheritances During a Divorce

If you acquired an inheritance during the course of a divorce, the process works a bit differently. You have to prove that you obtained the inheritance after the date of separation, or the date on which you file your divorce in Indiana court.

The date of separation is not the same date on which the court finalizes the divorce. You may still be legally married between the date of separation and divorce finalization – however, any property you obtain after this date is separate property, and protected from divorce negotiations.

If a loved one left you an inheritance when he or she passed away, it is understandable that you want to protect it. However, some spouses can try to take a portion of this inheritance away from you during a divorce. If you need assistance protecting your inheritance from your spouse, contact an Indianapolis property division attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can assist you in protecting your best interests during divorce negotiations and navigating these complex legal processes.