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How Texas law handles inheritances in property division

When Texas couples divorce, courts will conduct a division of the marital property. As a community property state, Texas treats all property owned by a couple as either marital property, which will be divided equally between the parties, or separate property, which is not subject to division and rather remains with the spouse who owns it.

In some situations, one spouse will have been the beneficiary of an inheritance left to him or her but not to his or her spouse. Generally, courts consider such an inheritance to be the recipient spouse's separate property, leaving it not subject to division. There are situations in which an inheritance may lose this immunity from being considered to be marital property, however.

If inheritance money is deposited into a joint account or if marital funds are deposited into an inheritance account, the funds are then commingled and subject to a property division order in a divorce. Similarly, if inheritance funds are used to make property improvements to a marital home, the amount of inheritance money used for the improvement is also subject to the property division order.

Commingling inheritance funds with marital funds leads the court to the presumption that the inheritance money is marital property. If a person did not intend the inheritance to be marital property, it is possible to convince a court to not consider the funds to be part of the community estate, but it is a difficult burden to overcome. A person who has an inheritance and who has previously commingled the funds with other funds in joint accounts may greatly benefit by seeking the assistance of a family law attorney who may be able to provide advice regarding overcoming the court's presumption in order to protect the inheritance from being included in a property division order.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance and Divorce", November 06, 2014

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