Parents often think long and hard about the best inheritances to leave to their children. The last thing on their mind might be that their child's inheritance could be compromised during a divorce. For the most part, Michigan family law treats inheritances as separate property that is not to be included during asset division. However, individuals should still take precautions to ensure that they do not inadvertently jeopardize their inheritance.
Keeping inheritances separate is key to maintaining it as separate, personal property that is not subject to asset division. When an inheritance is paid out, heirs should avoid depositing the funds into a joint bank account, commingling the funds and using them for marital expenses. Doing so causes an inheritance to become marital property, and in the event of a divorce, an ex could be entitled to an equitable share.
Heirs who received their inheritances before saying "I do" often think that their inheritance is protected no matter what. If they keep these assets and funds separate from marital accounts then it will remain separate property, but commingling the funds will still lead to the transformation to marital property. In many instances, a carefully worded prenuptial agreement can preserve the personal property status of an inheritance throughout a marriage.
Inheritances are understandably important to heirs -- they often represent the legacy and love of a lost parent or family member. It can be difficult to imagine parting with an inheritance during a divorce, so it is a good idea to become familiar with Michigan family law in respect to such matters. Even couples who do not foresee filing for divorce can benefit by ensuring their valuable inheritances are fully protected.
Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance and Divorce", Nov. 27, 2017