During the divorce process, it is not uncommon for two spouses to question whether one spouse's inheritance belongs to the other spouse, too. For instance, perhaps a relative passes away and leaves you assets in her last will and testament, not mentioning your spouse, even though she realized that you had gotten married.
The assets that your relative has left you are an inheritance that you acquired while married. How you handle these assets might influence whether you will have to give a portion of them to your spouse as part of the divorce proceeding.
What happens to an inheritance during divorce?
Arizona is a community property state, which means that any assets accumulated during the marriage must go through a 50/50 split during a divorce proceeding. However, an inheritance generally does not have to go through this split because an inheritance is not community property in the eyes of the law. Instead, it is separate property that belongs to the individual who obtained the inheritance.
However, perhaps you placed your inheritance money in your and your spouse's joint bank account. Then, you both used it for joint expenses during your marriage. In this situation, you essentially comingled your inheritance. In other words, your inheritance has lost its immunity. The same applies if you used your inheritance money to renovate your marital home.
What if you acquired an inheritance before getting married?
Maybe you entered your marriage with prior wealth due to receiving an inheritance while you were single. Again, if you placed this money into a joint bank account, comingling has taken place. The same is true if you and your spouse deposited marital funds into an account you opened for your inheritance money. Meanwhile, if neither of these acts took place, your inheritance remains separate property, which means you can keep it following your divorce.
Your rights when it comes to your inheritance in divorce
If you comingled your inheritance money but honestly never had the intention of sharing your inheritance with your spouse, you can try to demonstrate this in court. An applied understanding of the law may help you to effectively make your case so that you can protect your assets and best interests in Arizona.