Is My Inheritance Protected From Property Division in a Texas Divorce?

There are numerous laws addressing property division in Texas divorces. The marital property is always divided, but only sometimes 50/50.

There are many factors the judge considers when dividing property, including whether inheritance is protected from the division of marital property, also known as community property.

Find out more in this article about this topic. If you have questions, speak to our property division attorneys in Dallas at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson for legal assistance.

Is Your Inheritance Considered Community Property in a Texas Divorce?

Texas is a “community property” state, and whatever the Court determines to be community property will be divided between the parties in their divorce. So, the critical question is whether your inheritance is considered community property.

For the most part, Texas treats inheritance of one party as that party’s “separate property”, which is exempt from the division in a divorce. The Texas Family Code states that property that one party acquired by “devise” (by a will or similar instrument) or “descent,” (through a bloodline or adoptive inheritance) is separate property. So, the property that you receive from a family member or other person who passed away will be treated as separate property. It is, therefore, exempt from the community property division.

However, the issues surrounding inheritances can get more complicated. It is common for separate property and community property to be commingled during the marriage. This is often true if the marriage lasts longer than seven years—and even more likely the case for longer unions.

An inheritance is more than just money and property. You have an emotional attachment to it; it can be a part of your family history. It is essential to have a Dallas property division attorney involved early in the process to ensure your separate property is safeguarded. It is far too important to just assume it is separate property, and for a court to find differently later.

Examples of When an Inheritance Can Be Considered Community Property

As noted earlier, inheritances are separate property and not subject to property division. This is true even if the funds or property were inherited during the marriage. But sometimes, the inheritance could get commingled with community property in a way that makes it near impossible to tell which is which.

For example, suppose you receive a $50,000 inheritance from your mother’s estate during your marriage. You put the money into a joint account with your wife. Over the months and years, it can become challenging to unwind where that money went. This makes it hard to show, by clear and convincing evidence, that it should be separate property in a divorce.

Another example: You use your $50,000 inheritance to pay for debts or large purchases that are marital expenses (electric bill, rent, kids’ sports). It is next to impossible to show an entitlement to obtain these funds in full at the time of divorce.

A third example: You use money from the marriage to improve a piece of real property you inherited from your parents. The community estate (i.e., both spouses) may have a reimbursement claim against your separate property for the community funds spent to improve this house or cabin.

You can avoid some of these issues by always keeping inheritance funds in a separate account and never commingling it with marital funds. Also, you should maintain detailed financial records showing when all deposits and withdrawals occurred. These measures make it much easier to determine what is and is not your separate property later on.

Clearly, there are scenarios where an inheritance could be considered community property in a divorce, even if that was not the intention. That is why it is essential to engage early on with a skilled property division attorney to protect your separate property.

Contact Our Property Division Attorney In Dallas For Assistance

The divorce attorneys at Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson have handled many Dallas divorces, and they understand the legal complexities of inheritances and other critical property division topics. Contact our property division attorneys in Dallas today for assistance. Our attorneys represent clients in Dallas, Frisco, San Antonio, and surrounding communities.