What is a commingled inheritance?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2023 | Property Division

If you’re getting divorced, you’re likely thinking about separate assets and marital assets as you determine how to divide them with your spouse. Marital assets typically have to be split up, while separate assets are retained by the person who owns them.

In many cases, if you received an inheritance from your parents, that is a separate asset. This is true if you got it before you got married but, unlike other assets, it can also be true after you got married. So just because you had already tied the knot doesn’t mean you’re obligated to split that inheritance with your ex. The court understands that the money was intended for you, as it was given to you by your parents and should stay in your family.

Mixing and sharing the inheritance

Commingling the inheritance basically just means mixing it together with other assets that you own or sharing it with your spouse.

For example, maybe you used the inheritance to buy a family home or a shared business. If so, it is now commingled and your spouse may also have a claim to that asset, even though the inheritance funds were used to buy it.

In many cases, just putting an inheritance into a shared account is enough to commingle it. If you put it into your joint checking account that you and your spouse use to pay the bills, it is also commingled.

In other words, the best way to protect the inheritance is to keep it entirely separate from the moment that you receive it. But this can sometimes cause confusion during a divorce case, as you and your ex may not agree on who is entitled to specific assets, so be sure you understand all of your legal options.