If you intend to end your marriage, you should put some thought into how you plan to divide marital property. In Illinois, divorcing spouses usually receive an equitable share of the marital estate. While this approach does not necessarily mean you will end up with half of everything you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse own, you should receive what is fair.
You may have inherited money, property or assets before or during your marriage. If so, you may wonder if you stand to lose your inheritance when you divorce your spouse. The answer likely depends on whether your inheritance is marital property or separate property.
Marital vs. separate property
While you likely must split marital property during your divorce, you can probably keep anything that is exclusively yours. Typically, separate property includes assets you owned before your marriage began. If you received your inheritance before you walked down the aisle, it may be separate property you do not have to divide.
Likewise, if you took steps to ensure you inherited assets independent of your spouse, you may not have to divide your inheritance. There is an important exception to this rule, however.
If you mix your inheritance with marital assets, it may no longer be separate property.
For example, if you used your inheritance to remodel the home you own with your spouse, your inheritance may be part of the marital estate. Even if you simply deposited your inheritance in a joint checking account, the same may be true.
Ultimately, whether you keep your inheritance after your divorce is a legal question that depends on many factors. Still, provided you have not commingled your inheritance, you may have a valid argument for keeping everything you have independently inherited.