One of the most confusing aspects of divorce is separating all the property you own as a couple. It is difficult to figure out in some cases who legally gets what. The law says you must split marital property, which is property you obtained during your marriage. However, there are also exceptions to this, which may be why you do know if you will get to keep your inheritance.

If your inheritance came during your marriage, you may think it qualifies as marital property. This makes sense under the basic definition, but this is one of the exceptions to the rule. The North Carolina Judicial Branch explains that inheritance is an exemption to the normal marital property definition because you got it from a third-party and the intention was to benefit just you. This is generally true, but if your inheritance was money and you used that money to buy property during your marriage, then the court will probably classify the property as a marital asset.

To best protect your inheritance, you want to keep it separate. That means you should not put it in a marital account or use it for the upkeep or purchase of property the state classifies as marital property. This makes it easy for the court to see it is separate and wholly yours.

If for some reason, you and your spouse do not file for property division, then you both keep your own property and marital property remains shared. So, even in this case, your inheritance remains yours as long as you keep it separate. This information is for education and is not legal advice.