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High-asset divorce and inheritance funds

Generally speaking, if spouses in Florida individually inherit assets while married, as long as they follow certain rules their inheritance will not be subject to division if their marriage is dissolved. However, if spouses commit actions that by state law render an inheritance no longer immune to asset division in a divorce, divorcing spouses could claim a share.

If inheritances are kept separate, they will likely be considered separate property upon divorce. Comingling inherited funds with money accessed by both spouses will void immunity from equitable division. Comingling might mean depositing money from an inheritance into a joint bank account or using the money for things that mutually benefit both partners or their assets, such as renovations to a couple's primary home. However, if inherited funds were mingled without the intent to use them to benefit a spouse, people might be allowed to keep some or all of their inheritance as separate property.

Typically, separate property includes assets brought into a marriage, which might include property, funds or other inherited assets. However, if someone then comingles the inherited assets when married, he or she might have to share those assets with an ex. In addition to maintaining a separation of assets, spouses can protect their inheritances with prenuptial agreements. These agreements could state which assets and even liabilities are the sole property of one spouse in the event of divorce.

State laws vary greatly as to how inheritances and other assets are treated when couples end their marriages. An attorney could help people create a prenuptial agreement to protect assets they bring into a marriage. An attorney might also advise spouses on how to best avoid the actions that would constitute comingling or otherwise invalidate their claim a separate inheritance that they receive before or after getting married.

Source: Findlaw, "Inheritance and Divorce", December 04, 2014

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