Protecting Your Inheritance During a Florida Divorce
In most cases, any items or assets that you inherit directly are usually considered separate property in a divorce, even if they were acquired once you were married. What this means is that you are the sole owner of the inheritance, and the assets should not be in danger during your divorce. However, nothing is ever that absolute.
Actions you take during your marriage could put your separate assets at risk of becoming marital property through a process known as commingling. If you are concerned about keeping your inheritance separate before a divorce, it’s important to speak with a Florida divorce attorney who can walk you through how to protect your inheritance and any other separate assets.
What is Commingling?
Commingling is the process of converting separate funds into marital property, whether it is intentional or not. The term commingling of assets refers to integrating separate assets with jointly held property in a tangible way. Some examples of property that has been commingled include:
- Parent leaves their child a classic car. He or she adds their spouse to the title, rather than keeping it separate.
- A relative leaves you $4,000, and instead of depositing into your separate account, you deposit the funds in a joint savings account owned by you and your spouse.
- Your grandparent left you a piece of property, which you sold, and you then used some of the money to fund renovations in your primarily residence that is co-owned with your spouse.
Separate property can become marital property once you use that money in connection with a marital asset or you deposit it into joint accounts. This is why it’s important to be aware of the risks beforehand, otherwise you could be in for a huge shock during your divorce.
The opposite is true as well — attempting to do your divorce on your own might cause you to lose out on assets that should’ve remained separate, but your spouse convinced you were marital assets in your property settlement agreement. Without extensive knowledge of Florida divorce laws, you may inadvertently give away property or money you are otherwise entitled to.
Some examples where separate property is not commingled can include:
- You receive $5,000 from a relative and deposit it in an investment account that is solely in your name.
- You receive your parents’ home as part of your inheritance. Rather than add your spouse to the title, you choose to rent it out while remaining in your family home. The only risk here is the rental income in some cases.
- If you inherit a special item from your relatives, like your grandma’s antique sewing machine. You display it in your home and use it to sew garments from time to time. You should still have sole ownership of the sewing machine since it was clearly intended for you alone to have it.
Contact a Boca Raton Family Law Attorney
If you accidentally commingled property or funds without realizing it, it can be very hard to undo, but it’s important to speak with a skilled Boca Raton division of assets attorney right away. At the Law Offices of Schwartz | White, we can help you try to gather evidence and make the arguments necessary to convert it back to separate property. Contact us today at 561-391-9943 to schedule an initial consultation.