Texas residents who are considering a divorce may be interested to discover that inherited assets may be subject to distribution following the separation. The treatment of an inheritance that was acquired during the course of a marriage will depend on how the assets were handled upon receipt.
Although inherited assets are typically considered to be the possession of the person to which it was bestowed, whether or not they can be considered to be marital property will depend on state law. In some states, if the inheritance is used in a manner that benefits joint marital assets, such as inherited funds being placed into a joint bank account, it can be considered marital property and partitioned during a divorce.
State laws can also determine how inherited assets are handled if they were received before a marriage. The principle regarding commingling, or the use of the inheritance to enhance joint marital assets, also applies to this situation.
A prenuptial agreement can be useful in protecting pre-marital assets, including inheritances. Provisions can be added to the agreement to also safeguard any future inheritances received during the marriage.
If a party can prove that he or she never intended for the inheritance to be treated as a shared asset, a judge may determine that none or only part of the inheritance should be considered marital property. In order to successfully contest the assumption that the assets were meant to be shared, the party would have to submit very compelling evidence to support the claim as the burden of proof is very high.
The classification of an inheritance as marital property can be a complicated matter. An attorney who practices divorce law can advise a client on how to either claim or dispute an inheritance acquired during a marriage.