If you’re getting an inheritance from your parents and you’re already married, you may be tempted to commingle that inheritance. This just means that you’re mixing it together with other assets and allowing your spouse to use it. An example could be if you use the money to purchase a home together or if you put it into a shared investment account or bank account. Your spouse would be able to use that money and the two of you would view it essentially as a gift that was given to both of you.
This is a problem if you eventually get divorced. As a general rule, an inheritance is usually going to be viewed as a separate asset by the court. You would not have to split it with your spouse. But if you commingled it, that might mean that it now qualifies as a marital asset. You and your spouse would have to divide it if you ended your marriage.
So what should you do?
One of the easiest ways to address this is simply to keep the money separate at all times. Store it in a bank account that only you can access. Don’t buy joint assets with it. In fact, you may simply want to set the inheritance aside as money that you plan to use for retirement, meaning that it just stays in that private account for decades and no one uses it.
Another potential option would be to use a postnuptial agreement. This is similar to a prenuptial agreement, with the main difference being that you and your spouse can create it if you are already married. This agreement can be used to address financial terms, such as stating that you would get to keep the inheritance in the event of a divorce.
Financial issues can become very complicated during divorce. Take the time to carefully consider all of your options.