Is My Spouse Entitled To Part Of My Inheritance In The Divorce?

Inheritance” is money, property, rights or obligations received by an individual received after the death of another individual. The transfer of these funds, property rights or obligation is called a “bequest”. In Pennsylvania, the property or money received by bequest is not marital. It belongs to the individual who received it. Non-marital property is also legally described as “separate property.”  Property owned or obtained prior to marriage is also non-marital, separate property. However, this non-marital or separate property can change in nature and become martial, in whole or in part.

If money is put into a joint account, or property is transferred and joint titled, it becomes martial property. In that circumstance a spouse may be entitled to part of the inherited property. In Bucks County Pennsylvania the division of marital assets and debts is determined by the process called “equitable distribution”.  Assets and debts are divided on a percentage basis considering several factors such as the duration of marriage, age/health of parties involved, current/future financial needs, sources of income and the parties’ relative financial status.

The courts have determined if the inheritance becomes “co-mingled” or combined with other assets that are jointly held (i.e. a party uses their inheritance to buy something of value that is owned by both parties; that is considered co-mingling assets) then the inheritance becomes marital property, subject to equitable distribution.  Sources: 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 3502(a), 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 3501(a)

If you have questions about inheritance or the nature of a non-marital or separate asset please go to our website, email to or call to schedule an appointment with Tiffany Thomas-Smith, Esquire at 215-860-3747.