How are inherited assets dealt with in a divorce?

During your marriage, you may have experienced a windfall after a relative’s passing. No matter what assets they left you, you will want to protect them as you and your spouse split up. Yet, your spouse may try staking a claim to them. In most cases, though, any assets you inherited will remain separate property in your divorce.

Inherited assets are separate property

Under Pennsylvania law, inherited assets qualify as separate property – rather than marital property – in divorces. This provision remains true whether the assets passed to you before or during your marriage. To ensure it stands, though, you will want any funds you inherited accessible to you alone and any property you inherited titled in your name only. Yet, these assets may have increased in value during your marriage. Even if you kept them separate from your marital property, your spouse may receive an equitable share of the income they generated.

Commingled assets are often marital property

You may have commingled your inherited assets with marital property. By doing so, they become subject to Pennsylvania’s equitable distribution laws. Under these laws, your assets will become divisible in your divorce. You and your spouse will split them in a manner fair to and reflective of your individual circumstances. Yet, you two may have drafted a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. In it, you may have established that any assets you inherited will remain separate property, whether you commingled them or not. In this situation, your agreement’s terms will supersede the state’s statutes.

So long as you avoided commingling your inherited assets, they will likely avoid division during your divorce. Yet, you will want to protect them as a precaution. Consulting an attorney with family law experience can help you do so to the best of your ability.


FindLaw Network