Protecting an Inheritance From a Spouse

One problem that never seems to go away is when one spouse inherits property prior to the marriage going on the rocks.

An inheritance is inherently separate nonmarital property … unless the inheriting spouse compromises that status.

After the marriage is on the rocks, the other spouse typically asserts a claim to the inheritance as marital property.

So, for purposes of protecting inheritances from subsequent divorces, an inheriting spouse should receive and maintain the inheritance as separate, nonmarital property.

That means that money should not be deposited into joint accounts. Title should not be taken in joint name.

The inheritance should be placed into a separate account or individual title in just the inheriting spouse’s name. No marital property should be combined with the inheritance. No part of the separate property should be used to pay marital obligations.

Unfortunately, some damage is often already done by the time talk of divorce erupts.

The only thing the person or persons providing the inheritance can really do to avoid this outcome is to protect their child (or other heir) from himself or herself … by not allowing the inheritance to pass outright into their child’s (or other heir’s) hands to taint.

One way to accomplish that is by directing the inheritance into a properly drawn trust.

Trusts are governed by state-specific law. In fact, not all types of trusts or specific trust provisions are recognized in all states.

So it is critical to have a trust intended to protect a married child’s inheritance from their spouse (and/or creditors) drawn by a licensed and qualified trusts attorney in the appropriate state.

Read more in this Napa Valley [CA] Register article: Parents get nothing unless will says so.