Inheritance and Divorce

By Law Office of Karen S. Brown

If you’re currently going through a divorce or are considering a divorce from your spouse, you know that there are countless questions and concerns you’ll have to deal with. However, one such topic that’s not routinely discussed has to do with inheritance. If you’re expecting to receive assets from a family member or have recently inherited money, you’ll likely want to know if your spouse will get your inheritance if you divorce.

The best way to address this is to meet with an experienced divorce attorney who can evaluate your situation and advise you on your next steps. Call the Law Office of Karen S. Brown for help. Attorney Brown serves those in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and more.

Is My Ex-Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance?

The answer to this question isn’t always straightforward, and it can help to look at a few particular situations to gauge the risk of your spouse getting any of your inheritance.

Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements

Those who know upfront that they’re in line for inheritance may wish to write up a pre- or postnuptial agreement that specifically states who will receive it. This could include who owns the money during the marriage and in the case of divorce. Prenuptial agreements can be especially useful to protect against the commingling of assets during your marriage.

Separate and Marital Property

When you’re deciding upon your divorce agreements with your spouse, one of the most important tasks is to decide which assets are marital and which are separate. In general, inheritance is considered separate property, even if you’re married when it’s received. Other earned income, however, is typically considered marital if it was earned during the marriage by either spouse. During a divorce in California, any assets acquired during the marriage are considered “community property” and will be divided 50/50 between the two spouses.


Even though inheritance is typically viewed as separate property, there are certain instances when it can be transformed into marital property. This is known as “commingling.” When this happens, it can be hard if not impossible to protect your inheritance from being split equally between you and your spouse during a divorce.

For example, let’s say you inherited a large sum of money during your marriage that you then transferred into a joint account shared with your spouse. If you both have access to this account and spend from it freely, this money will soon be considered “commingled” and will fall into the community property category upon divorce.

Receiving the Inheritance After Divorce

In almost all cases, any inheritance received after your divorce is finalized will not be shared with your ex-spouse unless there was a specific provision in your divorce decree that addressed this. In rare (but not unheard of) cases, if you’re paying spousal or child support to your ex-spouse and come into an inheritance, they may be able to petition the court to increase this payment based on this new source of income.

How an Attorney Can Help

Almost all issues that come up in a divorce are going to be complicated and difficult to deal with. Questions surrounding inheritance can take on a more significant tone since it’s tied in with your immediate family. Each situation will be slightly different, and one way to ensure your money is protected is to meet with a skilled divorce attorney. This is not an issue you should try to handle on your own.

Helping You Reach a Resolution

If you have more questions about divorce and inheritance and are in the Los Angeles County area, reach out today. Serving Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Encino, Studio City, Torrance, Hancock Park, Brentwood, Santa Monica, South Bay, Pacific Palisades, and Long Beach, the Law Office of Karen S. Brown is prepared to give you detailed legal assistance every step of this new change in your life.