One of the most complicated aspects of many divorces is determining a fair settlement and division of marital assets. However, when one or both partners received an inheritance during the marriage, what is fair can take on a totally different meaning. After all, most people do not save their whole lives just to have half of what they left to an heir taken because a marriage did not last.
If you have concerns that your inheritance is subject to asset division, the good news is that Michigan generally does not consider inheritances marital property.
While that may come as a breath of fresh air, don't write it off as a win just yet. Even though inheritances are not generally marital property, determining what exactly gets protected as inheritance can be a tricky matter to navigate.
If you have not already done so, you should certainly seek the guidance of an attorney who understands how to identify and protect inheritance during the asset division process.
How do I prove what is my inheritance?
Here is where the issue gets complicated. While your inheritance can be legitimately shielded from asset division, other things that you used your inheritance to acquire during marriage may not be protectable.
Professionals in the field call this concept "commingling funds." In very broad terms, if you take your separate inheritance funds and put them into the "marital property box," then everything in that box mixes together and becomes property you both own.
You might do this by placing funds in a joint account or buying things that both you and your spouse use and may reasonably own, such as a home, a vehicle and other common types of property.
If you have commingled, it is possible to prove that these assets were not intended for sharing - but it is much higher standard of proof to demonstrate before the court.
No matter what the condition of your estate, you want to start collecting as much documentation as you can about your financial affairs. If you hope to prove that your inheritance is all yours, you will need to show the court exactly what you received, when you received it, and how you handled the assets.
It's dangerous to go alone
For many people getting divorced, it can feel as though they have been thrust into a disorienting and draining story, and they are just trying to make it to the end. No matter how hopeless things may seem at this moment, completing your divorce is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new chapter of life.
Still, attempting to weather a divorce, especially one involving significant assets, is never wise. Wisdom, in this case, is to seek out the guidance of an experienced attorney who understands the nuances and intricacies of complex asset division. With proper legal guidance, you can navigate this difficult season and emerge victorious on the other side.