inheritance

Is My Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance When We Get Divorced?


When two people marry, it is not just a union between two individuals, but a union of two families. The influence of the family will reflect on the marriage. The differences in values and culture could spell the difference between a harmonious marriage and one that ends in divorce

The big question is whether the influence extends to the financial status of the couple. If marriage binds them, will divorce effectively cut all ties?

Inheritance and the Limits of Community Property

The State of Texas follows the principle of community property. That means they consider the properties of the married couple as the property of both parties. Thus, if they divorce, the property should be divided between the two of them in an equitable manner.

However, there are exceptions to community property called separate property. Inheritance is clearly stated as one of the exceptions of community property. 

There are still certain conditions for an inheritance to be considered as a separate property. Otherwise, they would also be considered as community property.

Any property that is received by a spouse as a personal gift or a personal inheritance is considered separate property. Unlike property acquired through purchases, the gifts and inheritance will not be community property. It does not matter if it was received during the time that they were married. 

This holds true as long as the money or property is not commingled with the community property. For example, if the husband receives a personal inheritance worth $10,000, and he decides to deposit the money into their joint savings account, then it will be difficult to distinguish it from the money that they have also saved. In this case, it would likely end up as part of the community property.

The same principle applies if the money inherited is used as payment to purchase a property like a car. It will then be part of the community property. 

Inheritance Given as Gifts

If a husband is given a family heirloom, for example, his grandmother’s earrings, he has the discretion on what to do with the item since it is his separate property. However, if he chooses to give the earrings to his wife, there is no legal obligation to declare it as separate property, nor can the husband demand for its return, unless there is a written agreement that states otherwise.

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas.

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