Is an inheritance subject to division in a divorce?

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in High Asset Divorce on Wednesday, November 18, 2015.

One of the main issues in a divorce is dividing property. This can quickly become a complicated and contested issue, particularly if the couple has a lot of assets. In Missouri, any marital property is subject to division. Marital property generally includes any property that was acquired by either you or your spouse during the marriage, though there are exceptions. An inheritance is one of these exceptions.

Under Missouri law, inheritances are not considered to be marital property.  In other words, any property that you inherited is treated as your own separate property and cannot be divided during a divorce. This is true even if you received the property while you and your spouse were married.

In some cases, an inheritance can be subject to division. This is when the inheritance has been commingled with marital property and can no longer be traced. For example, let’s say that you inherited a large sum of cash from a family member during your marriage. You then deposit the cash into a joint checking account, which you and your spouse both use to pay marital expenses. If you do not have a receipt or any record of the deposit, the court will not be able to trace the inheritance. The inheritance may then be included with the rest of your marital property, subject to division.

Keeping your inheritance separate is the best way to protect your assets. If you do end up commingling the inheritance, you may still be able to keep the inheritance as long as you can show proof that it is your separate property. Creating a clear paper trail is the key here. You should obtain records to prove that the inheritance was intended only for you and that you never intended to share the funds.

Are you going through a divorce? Consider hiring an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help protect your assets.

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