Many parents leave significant inheritances to their children as their last act of loving-kindness. Can this be lost in a divorce? You know in your heart that your parents did not intend for their life’s savings to fall into the hands of your ex-spouse.
The answer is not so clear-cut. In most states, inheritances and gifts are not considered marital property, but separate. Things work a little bit differently in Connecticut.
How it works in Connecticut
According to the Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Library, in the case of Coppola v. Farina, the judge stated, “Connecticut is an all property state and, therefore, all real and personal property owned by parties regardless of when acquired or how acquired through employment, gifts, inheritance, before the marriage or jointly acquired or separately acquired during the marriage are all considered property for the purpose of marital distribution in Connecticut.”
This leaves little doubt that inheritance can be divided in Connecticut. Naturally, every situation is different. Plus, since Connecticut is an equitable distribution state, the court will keep an eye out for what is fair and reasonable instead of just dividing up the assets equally. That means that you may not automatically have a clear answer to your question.
What can I do to help safeguard my inheritance?
If the inheritance is “comingled,” such as depositing it in a joint bank account and using it as living expenses, then a court would be more inclined to divide the inheritance. One strategy to establish the ownership as solely yours is to keep the inheritance separate at all times. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can also help safeguard an inheritance.
When a divorce involves significant assets, it pays to think ahead. If you’re concerned about how your finances will be affected by divorce, learn everything you can about your legal options.