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When might you have to split an inheritance or gift in divorce?

On Behalf of | Sep 18, 2020 | Divorce

As a community property state, most assets that two people acquire, either individually or together, during their marriage are subject to equal division in a divorce in Texas unless they have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that says otherwise. This includes things like income, savings, homes, artwork, vehicles, and other property.

There are some exceptions, however. One of these is inheritances. However, there are instances in which a spouse could try to claim that they’re entitled to a share of the assets left to their husband or wife in a will or other estate plan document.

For example, if a parent stipulates in their will that you are to inherit a vintage car, that car would likely be considered separate property that’s not available for division in a divorce. However, if the will states that the car is being left to you and your family (even if your spouse isn’t specifically named), they could argue that they’re entitled to a share of it.

Another way that you may have to divide an inheritance with your spouse is if you’ve commingled it with marital assets. Say that a parent names you (and only you) as the beneficiary of their vacation home. If you spend money from your joint checking account or credit card to fix up the home or take out a joint home equity loan, your spouse can contend that it is now a marital asset — even though you didn’t add them to the deed.

The same principle is true of gifts — even gifts from your spouse. If your spouse gave you a boat (which they emblazoned with your name) as an anniversary gift, but the two of you regularly use the boat together, they could make the case that the vessel is marital property.

If you have valuable assets that you’ve received as inheritances or gifts during your marriage, the best way to prevent having to split them with your spouse if the marriage ends is to include them in a postnuptial agreement. If your spouse isn’t agreeable to that, talk with your attorney about other steps you can take to help ensure that you retain those assets for yourself.