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Understanding how an inheritance is handled during a divorce

Most states, including Missouri, follow equitable distribution when determining property division during a divorce. This means that judges will, based on their own judgment, determine how the property is divided fairly. This may mean that the spouse who had earned the least amount of income receives more than the other spouse. This is also applicable to property that is purchased while in the marriage.

Property typically falls under various categories, including community property, separate property and commingled funds property. Community property is property and debts which were obtained during the course of a marriage. Separate properties are typically obtained outside of a marriage, and may include gifts, inheritance and pensions. As the name suggests, commingled funds are a mix of both community property and separate property.

For inheritance that is obtained during a marriage, if the recipient intends for the property to stay as separate property it should not go into a joint account or be used for joint marital expenses, such as home improvements, or else it may be considered commingled or community property and lose its immunity in the event of a divorce.

During a divorce, it is important to protect yourself and make every effort to keep the property intended for you. The laws concerning property division varies by state and may be subject to the decisions of judges in the court of law. For our readers, it may be wise to get more information about your state's property division laws to make certain your property is protected.

Source: findlaw.com, "Inheritance and Divorce," Accessed on Jan. 12, 2016

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Joseph J. Porzenski
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