When a couple parts ways, the division of some types of property can be more complicated than others. Inheritance can certainly fall into this category. While Michigan family law dictates that inheritances are separate property, there are instances when it may be considered marital property. Whether someone is in a position of trying to protect an inheritance from being accessed in the case of divorce, or someone feels entitled to part of an inheritance when a marriage ends, these exceptions are important to keep in mind.
Inheritance may be considered marital property if the assets are owned jointly. There are a few ways this can happen, for example:
- Inherited funds could be deposited into a joint account
- Inherited funds could be invested in jointly held property, such as being used to purchase a marital home
- Inherited funds could be used to pay down jointly held debt, such as a mortgage.
While many people are interested in taking steps to keep their inheritance separate, every marriage is different. For some people, sharing this asset is an important part of their overall family financial plan. Those who plan to move inheritance into a joint account or use it for a joint purchase should be clear about the ramifications of doing so and should communicate about this choice. Additionally, it is important to remember that it does not always have to be fully one option or the other; some people will contribute a percentage of inheritance to family expenses while keeping another portion for themselves.
In the case of a divorce, dealings involving inheritance can be made easier when there has been advance communication. A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement can add another layer of clarity, though it must be a fair agreement in the eyes of the law. A Michigan family lawyer is a helpful resource both for individuals looking to draft such agreements, or those working through issues of inheritance as they pursue a divorce.