What Happens to Your Inheritance When You Get Divorced in Florida
If you received an inheritance from a relative or a loved one, you may be interested in protecting it in a divorce. Under Florida law, divorcing couples must divide their marital property in a reasonably fair manner. However, not all of your assets will necessarily be deemed marital assets. Indeed, when handled properly, inheritance is considered to be separate property. In this article, our experienced Clearwater divorce lawyer explains the most important things that you need to know about inheritance and property division in Florida.
The Rule: Inheritance is Separate Property in Florida
Florida is an equitable distribution state (Florida Statutes § 61.075). In the event of a divorce, a couple’s marital assets will be divided in a ‘fair’ manner. To reiterate, only marital property is divided and distributed by the court — separate property and assets are not subject to distribution. As a general rule, inheritance is separate property in Florida. This is true even if the inheritance was obtained during the marriage.
As an example of how this works, imagine that a wife inherited $50,000 in cash from an elderly relative through a will. After the estate was settled, the $50,000 inheritance was placed in an individually held bank account. No withdrawals were ever taken from this account. Five years later, divorce proceedings are initiated. In this case, that inheritance would still be an individual asset and, thus, it would not be subject to property division. The key fact is that the inheritance was kept separate and not mixed with the couple’s marital assets.
Commingling of Inheritance: It Could Become a Marital Asset
While inheritance is generally separate property in Florida, its status could change if the proper procedures are not followed by the party who received it. Specifically, when separate property, including inheritance, is commingled with marital property, it can become a marital asset. This occurs through a legal process called ‘transmutation’. By commingling property or using property to support the marriage, a person puts its status as an individually held asset at risk.
If you received an inheritance and you want to ensure that it remains separate property, it is imperative that you avoid commingling the asset. Once assets are commingled, they are difficult, if not impossible, to untangle. As a consequence, this means that your spouse will likely have a viable claim to a share of the inheritance during a divorce. To learn more about Florida divorce law and inheritance, you should contact an experienced divorce lawyer who can conduct an in depth review of your case.
Speak to Our Largo, FL Divorce Attorney Today
At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., our Florida divorce lawyer has the skills and experience needed to handle complex property division cases. If you have questions about inheritance and divorce, we are ready to help. To arrange a strictly private consultation, please call us today at 727-584-2528. With an office in Largo, we serve clients throughout the region.