Do I Have to Share My Inheritance With My Husband?

By Andrine Redsteer

Inheritance is typically viewed as the separate property of the spouse who received it. However, the nature of separate property can change during the course of a marriage if combined with marital assets. When a married person receives an inheritance before, or during, marriage, she has no legal obligation to share it with her spouse.

Keeping an Inheritance Separate

The only time an inheritance must be shared is when a divorce court decides that it was not kept separate from marital property. A spouse who does not wish to share her inheritance may keep it separate by depositing the proceeds into a separate bank account.

Equitable Distribution Jurisdictions

A majority of states divide marital property according to the concept of equitable distribution. In equitable distribution jurisdictions, courts split property between spouses in a manner deemed fair and just. This means that one spouse may receive over 50 percent of all property acquired in marriage if a court believes it is deserved. A minority of states recognize community property; these states typically divide any property obtained during marriage equally between spouses.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Community Property Jurisdictions

In community property states, marriage is viewed as a partnership in which both spouses share assets equally. Items obtained during marriage, such as the marital home, joint bank accounts and retirement accounts, are typically considered community property. However, some property is considered separate. When one spouse receives an inheritance or a gift -- either before or during marriage -- it is considered her separate property unless she demonstrates a clear intent to share it with her spouse.


In both community property and equitable distribution states, an inheritance received by a spouse prior to, or during, marriage is considered separate. However, if an inheritance is combined with community property, or "commingled," it may lose its separate nature. For example, if one spouse inherits money and deposits it into a joint checking account, it may become community property. An inheritance may also lose its designation as separate property if part of it is used to purchase shared items or to pay community debt.


Separate property, such as an inheritance, that was shared with a spouse is usually considered as being converted to community property. A spouse who shared any portion of an inheritance may have to overcome the presumption that she meant to share the entire inheritance. Typically, a spouse contesting this presumption must provide convincing evidence that the inheritance was not meant to be shared or be able to trace the source of funds to distinguish it from marital assets.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Is an Inheritance Received During Marriage Subject to Division?


Related articles

Interest Income From Inheritance During Divorce in Arizona

If you received an inheritance before or during your marriage, you may be trying to keep it from being divided in your divorce. Depending on how you treated the inheritance and its income while you were married, the inheritance itself – and the income from it – may be considered either community property or separate property.

New York Divorce Law: Separate Property

Property division plays an important role in most New York divorces. The process begins with classifying assets owned by a couple as either marital or separate. Certain considerations will factor into this analysis, including the existence of written agreements and the parties' treatment of the property during the marriage. Once the determination is made, all marital property is divided between the parties based on fairness, with separate property remaining with the individual who acquired it.

California Divorce Property Settlement Laws

California is a community property state, meaning a husband and wife each own half of all the property and assets acquired during their marriage. Marital assets include real property, personal property and income earned during the marriage. Debts acquired during the marriage are considered community debt subject to division in a divorce settlement.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

The 401(k) and Divorce Law in Arizona

Community property states, such as Arizona, view assets acquired during a marital relationship as equally shared ...

Is Inherited Property Subject to Division in a Divorce in Washington State?

During a Washington divorce, spouses can agree about how to divide their property and the judge can adopt that ...

Are Assets in Revocable Trust Part of Community Property?

The classification of property owned by a married couple can be important for determining taxes after death and ...

Financial Gifts in a Divorce

In many cases, if you personally receive money as a gift, it will not be affected by a divorce. Generally, gifts made ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED