Protecting your inheritance in a divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Child Custody & Visitation |

Divorce is sometimes the right option for Tennessee couples, but many people going through divorce still worry about how the process will impact their finances.

This is especially true if you own separate property that you want to keep separate. You may have just received an inheritance that you do not want to share with your spouse.

Tennessee law follows an equitable distribution model when dividing marital property, which means marital property is divided fairly. Inheritances are generally considered separate property, which means you do not have to share it with your spouse.

How an inheritance could become marital property

One exception applies if the inheritance mixes with marital property. This turns it into marital property that must then be divided. If this is what you want to prevent, there are ways to protect your inheritance.

Keep the inheritance in a separate bank or investment account. Do not add any marital funds to the account.

Do not use the inheritance funds to pay for any marital expenses. This can include joint bills such as a mortgage or other types of expenses.

Even a simple dinner out with your spouse that is paid for with the inheritance account could be viewed as enough to convert the inheritance to marital property.

Save statements from this account and keep records of all account transactions. Your spouse may try to claim the inheritance is marital property and the records are evidence that it is separate.

Consider a post-nuptial agreement

This is a legally binding agreement that details how your property will be divided in a divorce.

A post-nuptial agreement can include a provision that your inheritance is separate property and will not be subject to division in a divorce.

Your spouse must agree to include these terms in a post-nuptial agreement. Additionally, for a post-nuptial agreement to be valid, both spouses must have enough time to review it and an opportunity to consult with a professional before signing.

These are just some ideas that can help you protect your inheritance. Overall, if you keep it separate from other marital assets, it should be separate property that you can keep in the divorce.