Florida is an equitable distribution state. This means the family courts try to distribute assets between the spouses in a fair and reasonable manner, but fair does not always mean equal.
The judge sets aside all assets and debts that are nonmarital to determine how to divide the rest. Is an inheritance received during the marriage considered marital or nonmarital? What can you do to protect your inheritance?
Combining inheritance with marital assets
The courts consider an inheritance as nonmarital or separate property, meaning you will not have to split it with your spouse. However, problems may arise if you combined the inheritance with other marital assets.
For example, the house you and your spouse lived in was your inheritance from a family member. If you added your spouse to the deed or he contributed monetarily by paying the mortgage or making improvements, the courts may find the house is now marital property.
Protecting your inheritance
Whether you get a divorce or decide to stay married, keep in mind that when receiving an inheritance, you want the money or property to stay with you. To protect your inheritance, keep it separate from other marital property.
If the inheritance is money, place it in a separate bank account with only your name on it. Did you inherit a house? Do not put your spouse’s name on the deed. You may also think about putting all inheritance received in a trust with your children as beneficiaries.
If you are not sure about the future of your marriage, take proactive measures to protect your legacy for yourself and your children.