Divorce and Inheritance

By John Anthony Ward on January 28, 2020


Reviewing legal documents with judge's gavel on tableThe end of a marriage can be stressful, and many former spouses have disputes about the way assets and debts are split up. Usually property is divided equally/equitably, but there are exceptions to this depending on how the property is classified. This is why it’s so important to work with Kenosha, WI divorce attorney John Anthony Ward. He can help fight for what’s fair.

A number of divorce disputes arise over inheritance. One spouse may feel entitled to the inheritance even though Wisconsin has specific laws about how inheritance is classified. Let’s take a moment to consider these issues below.

Is Inheritance Considered Separate or Marital Property?

In the state of Wisconsin, inheritance is generally treated as separate property rather than marital property. In other words, the assets in inheritance go to one person rather than both spouses, and they are considered individual assets rather than shared assets.

This seems pretty cut and dry, but matters of property division can be more complicated depending on various factors in a marriage.

Complications Regarding Inheritance in a Shared Bank Account

One major issue that our Kenosha law office needs to note is how a joint bank account complicates the nature and classification of inheritance. While inheritance may be separate property, matters get muddied if the inheritance is placed into a joint bank account that both spouses can access. At that point, the inheritance is no longer separate property but marital property.

What If the Inheritance Was Received Before Marriage?

When an inheritance is received before marriage, it is most assuredly separate property. Again, however, inheritance will lose separate property status if it is placed into a shared bank account that both spouses can access. At that point, it becomes marital property.

What If the Inheritance Was Used to Improve Marital Property?

Another complication involves the use of inheritance funds in order to purchase or make improvements to a marital property.

Using inheritance to help pay for a house or a car is an example of this. In these cases, the amount spent in one’s own inheritance is no longer relevant as that inheritance has been used to acquire shared/marital property.

Does the Prenuptial Agreement Mention Inheritance?

To safeguard separate assets and funds, many couples mention matters of inheritance in a prenuptial agreement. Having this language in a prenup is helpful, and an attorney can help develop exact wording to cover all ways in which inheritance funds may be used.

How an Attorney Can Help with Inheritance Disputes

Since matters of inheritance and the division of property can be fraught, it’s good to have a skilled lawyer on your side. Our law office can go over the details in your case, review the prenuptial agreement and other relevant documents, and help ensure that your assets remain your own.

Our focus will always be on fairness and the letter of the law. If disagreements cannot be negotiated or mediated, we will help represent your side in court and provide further counsel moving forward.

Learn More About Divorce Law Matters

For more information about property division when a marriage ends and what your legal rights are, be sure to contact a skilled divorce attorney. You can reach the law office of John Anthony Ward in Kenosha by calling (262) 671-8692.

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