What happens to an inheritance during property division?

When you're going through a divorce, the thought of dividing your hard-earned assets and property might have you wringing your hands with worry. Will you be able to keep the house? How much of your savings will be split? Who gets to keep the car? Is my inheritance protected from the process of property division? We've answered some of these questions in past articles and will answer more in the future, but for now let's look at inheritances.

Let's say your wealthy Uncle Jimbo left you an inheritance from the revolutionary fish cleaning device he invented. He sent it to you, his favorite nephew and what you do with it can make all the difference.

Michigan is an equitable distribution state. This means that a judge decides what's fair instead of just splitting things down the middle. An inheritance is usually considered ineligible for equitable distribution because, in general, it's not considered marital property; it belongs to the person it was given to. However, if you take Jimbo's money and deposit it into a joint account with your spouse's name on it, you've effectively "commingled" the funds and they can now be considered marital property and thus eligible for division.

Here's the good news: even if you have commingled, there's still a chance to argue that the inheritance was never meant to be shared. If you would like to fight to keep an inheritance in the divorce, an experienced family law attorney may be able to help you plead your case before the courts.


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