What You Should Know About Inheritance and Divorce

Divorce Attorney in Laguna Hills, California

Inheritance and Divorce Attorney

Are you and your spouse unable to agree on how to distribute your property in the event of a divorce? Are you concerned that the inheritance you received before your marriage or domestic partnership will be included in the property division? If this is the case, it is time to learn how inheritance will be distributed in the event of a divorce.

Dividing property is regarded as one of the most challenging aspects of divorce process since it may take a physical and emotional toll on both of you if there are disagreements. This may be more challenging if both of you are high-earning or high-asset couples (considered as high net worth divorce). If this is your situation, it is a complex divorce in which both of you will go to court, and a judge will decide on the partition of property based on state divorce law. If you live in California, community property rules will apply.

If this occurs, it is critical that you prepare for this chapter of your life by seeking legal aid from a family law attorney at Trevino Law that specializes in this sort of divorce case. If you want to learn more before contacting an inheritance and divorce attorney or getting legal advice, you should read this article, as it will clarify the following:

  • Definition of inheritances
  • Types of property
  • Community property vs equitable distribution

What Constitutes an Inheritance?

Traditionally, when we talk about inheritance, we mean the possessions – real estate, money, or anything else – left to you by a relative upon their death. Inheritance can be obtained from the estate of a deceased person or as a beneficiary of a will or trust.

In California, the general rule of thumb is that a spouse’s inheritance will be treated as separate property and will not be involved in the division of property.

What types of things can be passed down in an inheritance?

Inheritance is a financial phrase that refers to the assets that one person may leave to their heirs or loved ones. It comes in different types and sizes. The following are the common examples of what can be included as an inheritance:

  • Money
  • Investments (stocks and bonds)
  • Automobiles
  • Houses or other landholdings
  • Pieces of jewelry
  • Art and antiques
  • Other assets bequeathed to you by the deceased.

However, in property division in a divorce, the type of property you have is more likely to be considered than the kind of inheritance you received.

We help you protect what matters most.

Need help regarding child/spousal support, custody dispute, restraining order, property divisions, or family business? Our Laguna Hills family law and estate planning attorneys will help secure your future!

Marital vs. Separate Property

When dividing the assets in a divorce or domestic partnership, one should look at the type of property that is in play. Before you can negotiate with your spouse, you must first determine which properties you individually own and which are only held by your spouse or the two of you together.

The properties in a marriage can be classified into two: marital property and separate property.

Marital Property

This type of property includes anything acquired or received by either of the couples throughout their marriage. In layman’s terms, it is the property that the couple owns jointly (marital assets). Paychecks, loans, real estate, businesses, investments, job benefits, and other assets and liabilities are all included.

But what if you can’t agree on which property is marital? Don’t be worried since a divorce court will decide this. The court will utilize evidence to determine the nature of the property.

For example, if you held a property prior to marriage but changed the name of the title to your and your spouse’s names, the court will view this as a gift to your marriage, and it will be regarded as marital property.

Remember that separate properties might be transformed into married ones if the owner agrees to assign them to both of you.

Separate Property

The word implies that a property – earnings and assets – is owned independently rather than jointly. If your property is classified as private in divorce proceedings, it will not be divided to both of you and will instead be maintained by the spouse who owns it. 

The following is considered separate property in community property states:

  • Property obtained or earned prior to the start of your marriage or civil partnership
  • The profits or benefits of a specific premarital property earned during the marriage, such as an apartment or pension, will be handed to the spouse who owns or is entitled to it. This means that the apartment rent earnings will only be distributed to the partner who owns the apartment.
  • Gifts or inheritance that is given to only one spouse 
  • Property acquired after permanent separation.

Separate property in the equitable distribution states includes:

  • property accumulated before marriage
  • Gifts or inheritances given to only one spouse
  • Moreover, wages or salaries of a spouse may be treated as a separate property in some equitable distribution states.

What is the procedure for dividing a property?

If you are going through a divorce, you should understand how property is divided. Normally, property division is determined by the state in which you live. States use one of two systems: community property or equitable distribution.

In a community property system, the property gained during the marriage will be split equally. This means that even if one of you is working and the other is staying at home, your earnings will be distributed evenly.

An equitable distribution system, on the other hand, means that the property will be distributed based on the conditions that each of you is in. As a result, the property will be split equitably rather than evenly.

Assume you have sole custody of the children. If this is the case, anticipate receiving a large portion of the marital property because you will need it to meet your children’s daily needs and future (child support). 

In an equitable distribution state, a judge may require a spouse to share part of their separate property in order to make a fair division.

What does the state of California use? 

In California, marital property is divided equally between the spouses through community property. According to California law, both spouses are entitled to equal portions of marital property.

In this type of division of properties, it makes no difference who is to blame for the divorce, who brought more money to the marriage, the financial conditions of either of you or who gets child custody; the court will nonetheless divide the marital property 50/50.

Start protecting your inheritance today by contacting our California family law attorneys!

The mere thought of divorce is already stressful and emotionally taxing. It is further complicated by a child custody battle and the complex property division. There is a lot of tension in these situations. In any case, our family lawyers at our law office, Trevino Law, can handle it.

Our experienced divorce lawyer has the necessary expertise and skills to help you with your divorce and your marital estate. Their extensive understanding of California family law, specifically divorce laws, qualifies them to handle any aspect of divorce in the state of California. They can help you at every step of your divorce journey, such as providing legal guidance on how to safeguard your inheritance.

Set up a free consultation with our inheritance and divorce attorney now!

Tips for Leaving an Abusive Relationship, Getting a Restraining Order and Building Your Life Again.

Get Your FREE Book Copy!

15 Ways to Protect Yourself When Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Mail a copy?

A guide to help make decisions about your divorce, and get peace of mind—all without leaving your home.

Get Your FREE Book Copy!

Divorce Lawyers

Trevino Law

Whether you’re dealing with legal affairs or planning for the future of your family, our Orange County family law and estate planning attorneys can help you take control of your life.

Popup Form