Inheritance and Divorce

Is An Inheritance Considered To Be Part Of One's Marital Property?

Inheritance and Divorce Attorney in Santa Rosa, CA

Do you intend to file for divorce in California? Divorce can be tough and painful, particularly when you’re dealing with emotional and legal obstacles on your own. Our Santa Rosa divorce attorneys can assist you in navigating the divorce process to obtain the best possible result for you and your family. Contact  Embolden Law PC now to book a consultation with our Santa Rosa divorce lawyers.

  • Understanding The Concept Of Property
  • California Laws On Inheritance And Divorce
  • Does Inheritance Qualify As Marital Property?
  • The Dangers Of Commingling In Inheritance
  • Inheritance And Divorce Lawyer In Santa Rosa, CA

Our inheritance and divorce attorney is experienced in family law, committed to helping you in your case, takes you through the legal procedure, explains the ramifications of a divorce (a division of marital property, parenting plan, alimony amount, and so on), and defends your rights.

Divorcing couples as well as parents who are having issues with child support or custody have received professional legal assistance from our team. Our family law attorneys represent men and women who want or are going through a divorce or legal separation in Family Law Court.

Understanding The Concept Of Property

When a couple divorces or legally separates, the court decides how to divide the property acquired by the spouses or domestic partners throughout the marriage.

Even if you do not want to deal with these difficulties, or if you divided your property informally when you divorced, the court must make a formal ruling on these issues.

This does not imply that you must go before a judge to resolve these difficulties. Often, spouses do agree on how to share their property (and obligations). When you divorce, though, the court must sign off on that arrangement. Until that occurs, all property acquired during the marriage or domestic partnership belongs to the two of you, regardless of who uses it or has control of it.

Debts are the same way. If you divide them between you without a court order or without a judge signing off on your arrangement, the debt remains yours and you are both liable for it, even if you split it up informally.

To understand how to split your property and debt so that your divorce or legal separation can be finalized, you must first grasp how property laws in California function when a couple is married or in a domestic partnership. The remainder of this section will go through the definition of property.

Anything that can be purchased or sold is considered property, such as:

  • Homes, 
  • Automobiles, 
  • Furnitures,  
  • Clothes.

Property may also refer to something of monetary worth, such as:

  • A business,
  • Apartment security deposits, 
  • A patent,
  • Cash and bank accounts,
  • Life insurance has a monetary value,
  • Pension plans, 
  • Stocks,
  • 401k plans.

California Laws On Inheritance And Divorce

California inheritance laws are seldom discussed throughout the divorce process, but when they are, they can have a huge impact. The particular issue of whether one spouse may claim rights to the inheritance of the other spouse falls within the asset division process.

Before discussing how California inheritance laws apply to asset division, couples must first understand the distinction between marital and separate property. California follows community property laws. This means that property division after a divorce typically results in a 50/50 share of all marital assets. However, some forms of property are excluded from this rule.

What Is the Difference Between Marital Property and Separate Property?

Marital Property

Marital property covers any assets or real property acquired during the marriage. Because many newlywed couples combine their resources and open joint bank accounts, everything acquired with those funds is considered marital property.

While some states’ rules have started to change, it’s crucial to note that family pets, if bought during the marriage, are legally considered marital property and subject to the asset division process.

Separate Property

Separate property is defined as real property or assets that is owned by one spouse prior to marriage or gained during the marriage by inheritance, gift, or devise.

Simply put, if one spouse purchased a vehicle and a vacation house a year before they married, the car and house are considered separate property and are not included in the pool of marital assets in the event of a divorce.

Does Inheritance Qualify As Marital Property?

An inheritance received before or during a marriage is often not considered marital property, even in California where community property laws govern. According to California inheritance laws, an individual’s inheritance is often regarded as separate property that belongs to the person who inherited it.

This means that the spouse who did not receive the inheritance cannot claim it in whole or in part during a divorce.

The Dangers Of Commingling In Inheritance

There is a widespread scenario that might cause these distinctions to get blurred, however. The most prevalent scenario involves the commingling of separate inheritance and marital property.

Consider the following scenario: a party inherits liquid assets, either through probate or non-probate transfer. Instead of placing the inheritance in their name alone, some parties deposit it in a marital bank account that also has their spouse’s name on it, along with marital money.

When this occurs, commingling has happened. The term “commingling” refers to the mixing of separate inherited funds with marital funds. When this happens, many family courts would consider any money in the married bank account, including any separate inheritance, to be marital property.

Furthermore, if the bank account is in the names of both spouses, many family courts will consider it marital property under the doctrine of transmutation. Transmutation is the practice by which separate property is recognized as a donative gift to the marital estate because it was deposited in a jointly named account or, in the case of real estate, the inherited property is placed in the names of both spouses by a subsequent deed.

Inheritance And Divorce Lawyer In Santa Rosa, CA

To protect an inheritance during a divorce, the best thing to do is to hire a divorce lawyer who has a lot of experience.

Inheritance laws can be complicated to grasp, particularly in the context of a divorce. Contact our offices now to discuss your circumstances and learn more about inheritance and divorce.

We sincerely care about our clients, their well-being, and their experience in the legal process. Our goal is to find a favorable solution to their legal problem the first time around.

So call or contact us immediately at Embolden Law PC, LLP to talk to our inheritance and divorce attorney.

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