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What you need to know about inheritances and property division

People usually put an enormous amount of time and effort into deciding what to pass on to heirs. These individuals might even try to envision how their heirs will enjoy their inheritances, but few might be able to predict an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence — losing an inheritance during a divorce. Although generally considered separate property, some people in Louisiana might be upset to realize that their inheritances will be included in property division.

Assets acquired during a marriage are generally considered marital — or joint — property. This is not necessarily the case for inheritances. Unless a will specified both the named heir and his or her spouse as the recipient, then the inheritance belongs solely to the heir and is therefore considered separate property. However, a person might want to use their inheritance for marital purposes, which can cause a problem.

Commingling an inheritance can cause it to make the jump from separate to marital, or community property. An example of commingling could be depositing inherited money into a joint account and then using it to pay bills, the mortgage or other joint expenses. Using an inheritance to improve a primary residence shared by the married couple could also mean that an inheritance becomes community property.

An easy way to protect an inheritance is through either a pre or postnuptial agreement. In the absence of these documents, heirs in Louisiana may want to be extremely careful when handling their inheritance. Doing so can not only help preserve this as a separate asset, but can also give an individual better insight into their own assets as they approach the property division process.

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