4 Ways to Screw Up Your Inheritance in Divorce

Usually, I write these blog posts to explain how you can keep assets separate in divorce. Today, I thought I would do the opposite and tell you how to screw up your inheritance and turn your separate inherited property into marital property you have to split in divorce.

Before we get to the how-to, let’s talk about Utah’s general rule about inheritance in divorce. The general rule is this:inheritance is separate property. Easy, huh?

But, like everything, easy is, well, pretty easily srewupable. (Yes, I know screwupable isn’t a word, but you get the gist.)

Here are the top four ways you can screw up your inheritance and turn it in to marital property:

  1. Put your inheritance in a joint bank or investment account.

The moment you put your money in a joint account with your spouse, you have comingled money. And you have to assume that comingled money is marital money, because, for the most part, it is. There might be some exceptions to this (e.g., if you can trace back your inheritance money remaining in the bank account), but it’s not worth the risk.

  1. Buy property and put your spouse on the title or the mortgage.

If you buy property (land, home, etc.) and put your spouse on the title or the mortgage, a judge is very likely to see that as having become marital property. Don’t take the chance: keep your spouse off the paperwork.

  1. Spend marital income on property bought with inheritance money.

Say you buy a property with your inheritance. You put down $100,000 and mortgage the rest. You were smart and didn’t put your spouse on the property’s title or mortgage. So far, so good. Then, you started paying the mortgage with marital income. Not good.

Every time you pay the mortgage with marital income, your inherited property transmutes (unlike screwupable, transmute is a real word) into marital property. Not all of your property transmutes when you do this (probably), but it becomes more and more marital as time goes on, and that marital portion of the property will be split in divorce.

(Hint: if you don’t want property to transmute, buy only the property you can pay off with your inheritance.)

  1. Pay for family stuff with your inheritance.

If you start spending your inheritance on family vacations, furniture, and the like, there’s an argument the inheritance is marital property. Courts are pretty good about saying that the unspent portion of your inheritance is still separate property (assuming you didn’t do #1), but why take a chance?

Protect Your Money And Your Family

We remove fear associated with divorce, protect your money & maximize time with your kids!

We're here to help. Let's determine your best options.

Call Us 24//7 at 801-685-9999 to Speak with a Live Representative

Utah Divorce FAQs
Top 100 Divorce Blog
What Clients Are Saying…
Brown Family Law
Based on 803 reviews
They handled my case with the highest degree of professionalism and integrity and made every effort to be efficient and transparent with me throughout the whole process. I was told that they were the best as far as family law is concerned and I believe that praise was fully justified.
Amber McFee is always professional and great to work with. Being opposing counsel by nature is adversarial, but Amber is professional in approach while effectively advocating for her clients. She will treat you right!
Response from the owner: Thank you, Jonathan.
Overall from start to finish the best experience to have dealing with a time that is difficult.Andrew Christensen is very professional and out going to make this situation the best it could be and worked hard to make sure the divorce was fair for me.Over all, this firm really cares and treats you as a family or friend and just not a client, down to Marco Brown taking time to see how I was doing and offer to help in any way possible during my divorce while I was there for my first initial meeting.I would highly recommend anyone that has to go through a divorce to really reach out to the Brown Family Law firm and see for your self the experience I was able to receive from a top notch law firm.
Response from the owner: Devin, thank you for the kind words. Andrew appreciated the opportunity to help you with your situation.
Sophie was very helpful and explains the process and fees. Thank you!
Response from the owner: Corey, thank you for the kind words. Glad we could help.
Dani always kept me updated and has great communication skills.
Response from the owner: Thank you, Sofia.
Dani was extremely helpful and always responsive.
Response from the owner: Glad Dani did well for you.
My experience with Brown Family Law is a positive one. I highly recommend them. This firm has very good communication with their clients. Attorney Paul Waldron represents me and I’m very happy with the experience. My questions and concerns are always answered quickly and respectfully. I’m grateful to have Mr. Waldron and Brown Family Law in my corner during this difficult time for my family.
Response from the owner: Jodie, glad we were able to communicate with you so effectively and quickly. Thank you for your kind words.
I recently used Clay in a divorce case and could not have been happier. He was efficient, knowledgeable, and made me feel like I was his only client. The process was easy and he was always there to reassure me or help me with decisions. I would highly recommend Brown Family Law.
Response from the owner: Thank you, Mendi.
Dani excelled as a paralegal, providing crucial support with exceptional skills!
Response from the owner: Glad Dani did such a good job for you.
Thank you So much
Response from the owner: You're welcome. Thank you for choosing us to help you.