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Is inheritance considered separate property?

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2019 | property & debt division

Getting a divorce means determining what is and what is not considered marital property in Georgia. Some forms of property are counted as separate and cannot be divided up by a divorce court. You might wonder if an inheritance qualifies as separate property since inheritances are generally intended for a specific person and not the person’s spouse. In most cases, an inheritance is considered separate property, provided its status does not change.

FindLaw explains that inheritances are typically considered separate property. Therefore, there is little risk that an inheritance given to you by your parents, grandparents or other family members is going to be split between you and your spouse. Like other financial transfers such as monetary damages from a personal injury lawsuit, an inheritance is treated as exclusive to one person if the terms of the transfer dictate it so.

Still, the separate property status of an inheritance can be waived if the inheritance is not treated as separate from other marital assets. This is known as comingling. When you comingle separate assets, you are mixing them with assets you and your spouse share. For instance, if you inherit an amount of money and deposit it into a bank account jointly owned by you and your spouse, this is known as comingling.

Your inheritance can also be comingled if it is used to pay for or improve a jointly owned asset. You and your spouse may want to do some home improvement work on your residence. Other instances can include paying for or servicing a vehicle used by you and your spouse. Since your inheritance benefited both you and your husband or wife, the inheritance could be considered a marital asset.

It is better to deposit the inheritance into a separate bank account. But be warned that inherited assets may not be safe there if you deposit marital assets into the account as well. Basically, there should be no form of comingling, no connection at all between the inheritance and your married life, to give your inheritance the best chance of surviving a divorce without division.

Property division can happen in many different ways. For this reason, do not consider this article as actionable legal advice. It is only written for the educational benefit of readers.