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Protecting an inheritance during a divorce

When a couple goes through a divorce in Ohio, the law requires all marital property to be divided fairly and equitably between the two spouses (unless there is a valid prenuptial agreement in place).

Marital property includes nearly all of the income and assets that were acquired by either party during the marriage. However, an inheritance is an example of an asset that can be acquired during the marriage but is actually considered separate property under Ohio law.

But it is not always easy to protect an inheritance during a divorce, as a recent article from the Wall Street Journal discussed, especially if the necessary precautions are not taken. In order to best protect an inheritance, it’s best to follow these steps in advance:

Keep documents explaining the inheritance. The court will want evidence of how much the inheritance was for and that it was left to one spouse only, which can often be found on the donor’s gift-tax return.

Don’t co-mingle an inheritance with marital funds. Inherited money or assets should be kept in a different bank account from marital funds so that it’s easier to show that it is separate in nature.

Keep the other spouse’s name off of the deed. If a piece of property was inherited or inherited money was used to buy a property, don’t add the other spouse’s name to the deed.  

Consider a prenuptial agreement or a trust. A prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement that is executed properly can clearly establish that an inheritance will remain separate property in the case of a divorce.

For more information on keeping an inheritance safe during a divorce, talk to an experienced family law attorney in your area.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “How to Keep Your Inheritance in a Divorce,” Neil Parmar, Nov. 9, 2014

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