When couples marry, they rarely anticipate that they will one day be divorcing. However, as most Florida residents know, divorce can strike anyone. Florida is an equitable distribution state in which courts are guided by the principle of equity during property division matters. This means that marital property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. Fortunately, inheritances are usually considered as belonging to the person who received the inheritance, with the emphasis on usually.
Under equitable distribution laws, an inheritance is considered separate property and may be exempt from the property division process. However, it is up to the beneficiary of an inheritance to make sure these assets remain separate property. In many states, commingling is the key factor that could turn separate property into marital property, thus making it eligible for property division. Regardless of whether the inheritance was received before or after marriage, the beneficiary should take steps to avoid commingling these funds with marital funds.
Unfortunately, it is all too easy to commingle funds in a marriage, even accidentally. For example, if you use part of your inheritance to pay your mortgage or your electric bill, you are commingling your inheritance with your marital property. If you deposit your inheritance into a bank account you own jointly with your spouse, you are also commingling your funds.
The best way to ensure your inheritance remains your own is to deposit it into a separate bank account and use it only for your own personal purchases. Inheritance funds are just one factor that can make property division more complicated during divorce. If divorce is on your horizon, it pays to learn about property division laws in Florida. Consulting with a lawyer can help.
Source: FindLaw, “Inheritance and Divorce,” accessed Aug. 10, 2016