Do I Have to Share My Inheritance in a Divorce?


Do I Have to Share My Inheritance in a Divorce?

When you divorce, you know that you will need to share your property and divide it between each of you. While you hoped your marriage would last forever, you are now facing the fact that your union is coming to an end. Both you and your spouse need to abide by the law while also making sure that you each receive the property that you are entitled to from your marriage, including any inheritance. An experienced North Carolina divorce attorney will help guide the process and assist you through a fair uncoupling.


Division of Property in North Carolina

North Carolina is one of the states that requires an equitable distribution of assets in a divorce. Generally, the law assumes that in most cases, the property that belongs to both parties is distributed in an equal manner between them. When couples are unable to come to an agreement as to the distribution of their marital property, the court must make the final decision. It is helpful to understand the definition of marital property. Marital property includes any assets and debts that the couple acquired during their marriage and until the date of separation.


Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: ” Is there some property that the judge cannot divide?”


Exceptions to Division of Property Rules

There may be some exceptions to the division of marital property rules. Property that you owned prior to your marriage is typically exempt from divorce distribution since it belongs to you alone. Gifts that you received, even while you were married, are often yours alone and do not have to be divided. Inheritances that a spouse receives are often considered theirs alone. However, that may not always be the case. There are situations that arise where an inheritance was shared with a spouse and therefore was marital property.


Complications With Commingling Propertyhouse-in-colmar-1640603-scaled

Complications can arise, especially when couples commingle their property. For instance, if one spouse receives an inheritance but then adds it to the marital funds that are used for joint bills and family needs, the inheritance may be considered part of marital property. If you and your spouse voluntarily shared assets, even if they originally belonged to one of you, the courts may consider it marital property and therefore, it should be split between both spouses.


Protecting Your Inheritance

One of the best ways to protect your inheritance is with a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Make sure the agreement specifies that inheritances are separate assets. If you do not have a pre or post-nuptial agreement, you should keep documentation regarding the inheritance, including when and how it was obtained. While it may be tempting to place an inheritance into a joint bank account, it may be better not to do that. It could be in your best interest to keep your inheritance totally separate from marital accounts. This will help to protect the funds and ensure that you demonstrate your desire to keep the money apart from marital money.


The distribution of assets in a divorce can be complicated. To ensure that you protect your property, contact us for legal guidance as soon as possible. Call Arnold & Smith, PLLC at (704) 370-2828 for a consultation.



The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.



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