divorce attorney Alabama

Inheritance and Divorce: Legal Considerations for Protecting Inherited Assets

The division of assets is often a painful and time-consuming part of any divorce. Even couples with minimal assets may struggle to divvy up what they have accrued during their marriage. For those with high-value or personally meaningful inherited assets, this step is even harder. Assets handed down from family members may be especially hard to let go of, which is why it’s so important to work with a divorce attorney in Birmingham from the very beginning.

The team at Kirk Drennan Law is here to help you through every step of your divorce. Set up a time to talk now by calling us at 205-953-1424.


Understanding Inherited Assets in Divorce

One of the most important concepts to understand is separate versus marital property. Separate property is kept separate after a split, as the name suggests. However, assets considered marital property are subject to division. The good news is that inherited assets are generally considered separate property and are not split up in a divorce.

Unfortunately, as is the case with many divorce-related issues, it isn’t always this easy. If the inherited assets were commingled with marital assets or the non-inheriting spouse played a major role in the upkeep or maintenance of the asset, they could very well be subject to division.

For example, imagine that you inherited a substantial sum of money when a loved one passed away. If you kept it separate during your marriage and preserved it in an account that was not accessible to your spouse, it could still be considered separate property. But if you simply deposited the entire amount into your shared account from which you both covered bills and household expenses, you’d likely lose at least some of that money.


Legal Strategies for Protecting Inherited Assets

No matter the value of your inheritance, you’re likely concerned about protecting it during your divorce. That’s why it’s important to work with an attorney with experience in these types of cases. They can utilize a variety of legal strategies to prevent your inheritance from getting divided up, including:


  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements: While these options are not accessible to you if you are already going through a divorce, they are absolutely an option if you are getting married or are currently married. It’s easiest to handle these potential issues by preventing them entirely, rather than trying to sort them out in the event of a divorce.
  • Documentation: A significant part of protecting your inheritance is proving that it was kept as a separate asset throughout your marriage. You should have proof of the inheritance and proof that it was willed solely to you. You should also gather any appraisals, separate accounts, and documentation of any work you have put into preserving or growing the asset.
  • Tracing and segregation: Tracing and segregating your inherited assets from your marital assets is a key part of keeping them separate. How this is handled depends on the nature of the asset. For example, inherited money would be kept in a separate account that is not accessible to your spouse. An inherited home would be kept solely in your name and you would do all of the work necessary to maintain the property.
  • Avoid commingling: Commingling your marital and separate assets can make your divorce far more complicated than it ever needs to be. Avoid using your inherited money to pay marital bills, and don’t allow your spouse to make investments in your inherited property.


How Legal Professionals Can Help

An attorney with substantial experience in complicated divorce cases will know how to protect your inheritance and be proactive about your divorce as a whole. Your attorney may take steps to keep inherited property separate, bring in other legal experts when necessary, and take care of negotiations between you and your ex-partner.


Protect Your Assets with the Team at Kirk Drennan Law

No matter where you are in the divorce process, it’s the right time to talk to Kirk Drennan Law. Our extensive experience in divorce makes us the natural choice for your Birmingham, AL divorce. Set up a time to talk with our team right away by sending us a message online or calling us at 205-953-1424.

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