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Protecting your inheritance when you marry or get divorced

Inheritances are one of the few things that can be positive about a loved one's death. Out of all the sadness and loss, they've left you something behind that you can cherish or use to your own benefit.

Inheritances are important to beneficiaries for a number of reasons, and benefactors leave them to individuals for a variety of reasons. For example, your grandmother might leave you a small trust fund to go toward a college education, or a parent might leave you property that you can live in or sell.

Many people have questions about how they can protect their inheritances. There are two common situations that are asked about often. The first is marriage. The second is divorce.

When you are married or are getting married and have an inheritance gifted to you, you'll want to make sure you keep that inheritance separate from any joint bank accounts if you intend to retain it as separate property. If you give your spouse access to your inheritance or use it for both of your benefits, then it may become community property and be divisible during divorce in the future.

During divorce, you will want to show that you kept the inheritance separate. Typically, inheritances are protected against becoming marital property, but you still want to keep it separate. If you intend to share a portion of an inheritance with your spouse, take the portion you want to share and place it in a shared account, but keep the remainder separated.

Our site has more on inheritance rights and how to protect your loved one's gift to you.

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