Indiana Family Law & Criminal Defense Lawyers

Home 9 Divorce 9 Is Inheritance Marital Property?

Is Inheritance Marital Property?

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Divorce, Family Law, Firm News | 0 comments

Divorce is challenging and confusing. Many who go through this process have numerous questions regarding marital property and the distribution of assets. One of the most common questions is whether or not inheritance is marital property. 

While you may expect the answer to this question to be a clear “yes” or “no,” the answer is more complex in Indiana. Inheritance is technically marital property, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you and your spouse will split your inheritance equally. 

In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about inheritance during divorce proceedings and how to protect your money from your spouse. If you have additional questions regarding your inheritance, contact the divorce lawyers at Zentz & Roberts, P.C.

Is Inheritance Marital Property?

Indiana uses what’s known as a “one pot” theory in marriage, which means that all property belonging to you or your spouse is marital property. Your spouse jointly owns your possessions and finances regardless of whether you obtained your property before or after getting married. 

When Does an Inheritance Become Marital Property?

Our state’s “one pot” theory means that your inheritance becomes marital property immediately when you get married. If you were already married, your inheritance became marital property when it was bequeathed to you. 

Even though your inheritance is considered marital property, you don’t necessarily have to split it with your spouse 50/50 in the event of a divorce. In the next section, we’ll discuss Indiana’s equitable distribution of property theory and factors that will impact how you split your marital property with your spouse.

Equitable Distribution of Property

In addition to the “one pot” theory, Indiana’s divorce process uses the equitable distribution of property theory. The theory aims to divide property between the spouses in a way that’s considered just and reasonable, and this includes inheritance community property. 

marital propertyUnfortunately, equitable distribution defaults to a 50/50 split in property. If you wish to retain more of your inheritance, you’ll need to be able to prove that you deserve more than the 50/50 split. You’ll need to provide evidence that shows you have more of a claim over your inherited property than your spouse.

Indiana Code section 31-15-7-5 outlines factors that will determine whether or not your property will be split evenly with your spouse. 

These factors are as follows: 

  • (1) The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the property, regardless of whether the contribution was income-producing.
  • (2) The extent to which the property was acquired by each spouse:
    • (A) before the marriage; or
    • (B) through inheritance or gift.
  • (3) The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the disposition of the property is to become effective, including the desirability of awarding the family residence or the right to dwell in the family residence for such periods as the court considers just to the spouse having custody of any children.
  • (4) The conduct of the parties during the marriage as related to the disposition or dissipation of their property.
  • (5) The earnings or earning ability of the parties as related to:
    • (A) a final division of property; and
    • (B) a final determination of the property rights of the parties.

How to Protect Your Inheritance

50/50 splitSection 2 of Indiana Code 31-15-7-5 states that a gift or inheritance can impact a 50/50 split, meaning you might be able to retain more of your inherited property than your spouse. 

To prove that your property should be divided unequally, you’ll need to show that the inherited property wasn’t commingled with marital property. For instance, if you put inherited money in a joint bank account with your spouse, those funds are now commingled. You also commingled your inheritance if you used it to pay for equity in your home or paid for your spouse’s expenses. You must avoid commingling any of your inherited money with your spouse, as it will weaken your claim. 

Further, to avoid a 50/50 split, you’ll need to be able to prove that you were the sole benefactor of your inherited property rather than both you and your spouse. Make sure to retain all documents related to your inheritance, including a will, an executor’s letter, a trust, or any other supporting documents. 

While these factors are important for showing that an uneven split is equitable, the court will take many factors into account, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to keep more of your inherited property than your spouse. 

Retaining Your Inheritance? Contact Zentz & Roberts

Retaining your inheritance during a divorce is an uphill battle. You’ll need to be able to provide sufficient proof that you deserve more of the inheritance marital property than your spouse. 

Fortunately, you don’t need to go through this process alone — contact the experienced Indiana divorce lawyers at Zentz & Roberts, P.C. We’ll work to help you protect your inheritance and will negotiate the division of property on your behalf. 

You can get started today by scheduling a free consultation with our team. Schedule your consultation online or call us at 317-220-6056. 

***Please note: This page is not intended to give specific legal advice but is meant for information purposes only. Contact us to discuss your case***