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Is My Spouse’s Inheritance Marital Property in an Illinois Divorce? 

Posted on February 21, 2022 in Family Law Blog

lombard divorce lawyerThe issue of inheritance is often a cause of great contention in Illinois divorces. For spouses who have been married for decades, money given from a deceased family member to one spouse may feel like something of a betrayal to the other spouse, especially if the spouse who receives the inheritance decides not to spend it in ways that would benefit the marriage or children. 

In other situations, couples may be very generous with each other’s inheritance, and even count on it as part of their long-term financial planning. No matter how an inheritance has been handled, the issue can get thorny when a couple starts discussing divorce. Deciding how to handle an inheritance in the asset division process can be challenging, especially when inheritance funds have been mixed with marital funds. If you are considering divorce and anticipate dealing with inheritance, consider getting the help of a DuPage County attorney with experience in both family law and estate planning

What is the Difference Between Marital and Non-Marital Property in Illinois? 

Illinois divorce law requires marital property to be divided equitably. This means the 50/50 split that is often seen in community property states is less common as Illinois judges try to find a balance that is fair, rather than exactly equal. Determining how to split marital property equitably requires that all marital property be fairly accounted for. Usually, assets and debt that were owned by one spouse before the marriage remain the property and responsibility, respectively, of that spouse. In contrast, any income, assets, debt, savings, or investments made during a marriage are usually considered marital property. 

Inheritance, however, is an important exception to this rule. Under Illinois law, inheritances, gifts, or legacies are generally seen as the exclusive property of the spouse to whom they are given. 

Is an Inheritance Ever Considered Marital Property? 

Spouses who inherit may intentionally or unintentionally mix their inheritance with marital property. This process is known as “commingling.” When commingling happens, it is much harder to separate the inheritance funds from marital funds and argue that the inheritance should remain the exclusive property of the spouse who inherited it.

Asset training may be necessary to determine how much, if any, of the marital property is actually personal property stemming from an inheritance. This can be complicated when funds from an inheritance were used to help purchase a home many years ago, for example. 

The best way to keep an inheritance exclusively in the ownership of the inheriting spouse is to ensure the funds or assets remain in separate accounts that are managed exclusively by the inheriting spouse. Before using inherited funds or assets in ways that benefit a marriage, spouses may want to speak with an attorney who can advise them about protecting ownership of their inheritance. 

Call a Lombard, IL Marital Property Lawyer

Disentangling an inheritance from marital funds can be a challenging and time-consuming process. Fortunately, with the help of an experienced Lombard, IL marital property division attorney with A. Traub & Associates, you can get help determining whether any portion of a spouse’s inheritance is marital property and negotiate an equitable asset division. Call us today at 630-426-0196 to schedule a confidential consultation today. 



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