When An Ex-Wife Has Rights To Your Inheritance

By Jennifer Paine

Attorney, Cordell & Cordell

divorce inheritance propertyIf you received an inheritance, you might think all of it is yours – after all, your name appears in your generous Great Aunt Bertha’s will, not your wife’s.

Well, not necessarily.

In general, any property you acquire between the date of your marriage and the date of your divorce is considered marital property eligible for division (for those of you living in community property jurisdictions, the same rule usually applies).

An inheritance might be your separate property, but only if you did not commingle it with marital property or treat it as marital property during your marriage.

And that is tough to do.

Imagine receiving an inheritance of $20,000 and just leaving it in an account, in your name only, sitting there, and not touching it at any time during your marriage. Most spouses don’t, especially in this economy.

If you used that inheritance during the marriage, if you added it to a joint bank account, or even if the divorce court believes your wife needs a share of it, that inheritance is not yours – it’s your wife’s, too.

If you receive an inheritance, the best thing to do is title the property in your name only, deposit the money into an account bearing your name only, and do nothing but leave it alone – until you are safely divorced.

To schedule an appointment with a men’s divorce lawyer, please contact Cordell & Cordell.


Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

End of Content Icon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.