Gusty A.E. Sunseri & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Is an inheritance subject to property division in divorce?

Divorce can be a big decision, not only because of the emotional ramifications that can come with ending what was once a strong relationship, but also because of the financial impact it can have on an individual's post-divorce life. Of course, child support and alimony can play key roles in the financial outcome of a marriage dissolution, but perhaps an even bigger piece of the financial picture is property division. Pennsylvania recognizes equitable distribution of assets upon divorce, which means that property is divided in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal.

It is important for Pennsylvanians to note that only marital property is subject to division through divorce. Separate property is not. Therefore, one major issue during property division is figuring out which property qualifies as marital property. Oftentimes, inheritances are drawn into questions, with one side trying to retain their right to keep what was left to him or her, and the other side trying to obtain a piece of what they believe to be his or her fair share of that inheritance.

Generally speaking, inheritances are considered separate property. However, what is done with that inheritance can change its classification. Typically, separate property that is comingled with marital property automatically converts that separate property into marital property. For example, depositing an inheritance into a jointly held bank account may convert that money into martial property, thereby subjecting it to property division in the event of divorce.

Regardless of on which side of a battle over an inheritance an individual falls, he or she will need to put forth convincing legal arguments in order to reach an outcome that is favorable to his or her position. This is why it is often helpful to have the assistance of an experienced and skilled family law attorney. Legal guidance can help divorcing spouses navigate this and other legal divorce issues.

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