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Do you have to divide your inheritance when you divorce?

If you have decided to divorce your spouse but have an inheritance that you’ve been saving, it’s a good idea to learn the laws that could affect it. Usually, inheritances are not assets that are divided upon divorce, but in some cases, your inheritance could be at risk.

In Georgia, the general view is that inheritances are separate property and should not be subject to division when you go through a divorce. However, if you have commingled the assets with those you share with your spouse or your spouse has evidence that part or all of the inheritance was meant to be split with them, then you may lose a portion.

Keeping your inheritance separated

If you haven’t yet received your inheritance or haven’t mixed it with your shared accounts, you may want to think about discussing your options with an accountant and your attorney. Normally, if you keep your inheritance separated and don’t commingle it with your spouse’s account, you should be able to have it recognized as separate property.

Certain items you purchase with your inheritance, such as a car or home, may also remain your own separate property unless it is clear that the item was meant to be shared between you and your spouse. This is significant, because you will need to do all you can to avoid using your inheritance in any way that shows a portion was intended to be used by or for your spouse’s benefit.

Keep in mind that how the inheritance is disbursed to you may matter, too. If it’s sent directly to a shared bank account, your spouse may be able to argue that you both had access and were able to use it. Similarly, if you receive an inheritance that was designated for you and your family, then your spouse may argue that the inheritance was as much theirs as it was yours.

Inheritances can be a tricky subject depending on how they were disbursed and how you use them. If you have questions, it’s a good idea to ask before you use the money or asset in a shared manner.