When a couple goes through a divorce, anything considered marital property is usually divided fairly between both partners. A person's inheritance is usually considered separate property, but there are circumstances in Connecticut where a spouse could receive part of another spouse's inheritance.
If one partner is given an inheritance while married, then how the inheritance is handled can determine if the other partner has any legal right to it. Assets in a joint bank account belong to both parties, so an inheritance could become property of both. An inheritance may also be subject to division if used to improve a couple's joint martial assets.
One party may be able to keep an inheritance even if it becomes marital property, but successfully contesting the sharing of an inheritance might prove difficult. A spouse would need to show that he or she never intended to share an inheritance with the other spouse, and there is a high burden of proof when doing this. In some cases, a portion of the commingled assets might remain separate property.
Assets and inheritances are generally considered separate property when acquired before marriage. However, a commingling of separate property and joint property can still change this. A prenuptial agreement might help one spouse secure a past or future inheritance.
Property division can be complicated when a couple is trying to split marital property, so a dispute about separate assets or an inheritance might be especially tricky. Couples in Connecticut are subject to equitable distribution, which means each party is entitled to a fair but potentially not equal share of the martial property. When possible, a couple may prefer to make their own arrangements with the assistance of an attorney instead of letting a judge decide what constitutes an equitable division of property.
Source: Findlaw, "Inheritance and Divorce", October 07, 2014