Is an inheritance marital property in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin inheritances and gifts given to one spouse are not considered marital property by law. Rather inherited assets and gifts given to one spouse are called separate property, belonging to one person. This means an inheritance or gift is not subject to marital property division in a Wisconsin divorce.

Inheritance and Marital Property in Wisconsin

In general inheritances and gift are not considered marital property during a divorce, which means during the time of divorce they will not be subject to property division laws. Inheritance and gifts are not considered marital property because these types of assets are considered separate property, which means they are solely owned by one person.

We say, in general, because there are exceptions to when inheritances and gifts are considered separate property. These types of assets can be classified as marital property if they are co-mingled with other marital assets or marital assets were used to improve the asset in any meaningful way. When these conditions are met inheritances and or gifts will be subject to marital property division during a divorce case.

Scenario 1: If John and Mary are married and while married Mary graduates from college. Mary's parents are happy for their daughter and as a reward for graduating college they give Mary $30,000. Mary takes the $30,000 and puts it into a money market account in 1994. It is now 2014 and the marriage is not working. Since Mary put this into a separate money market account and never added to the $30,000 with marital assets, which is the key in this scenario, the $30,000 is likely to be considered separated.

Scenario 2: John and Mary are married in 1992 and Mary graduates from college in 1994. Mary's parents are excited about Mary graduating from college and give her $30,000. Mary takes the money and uses it as a down payment for their first house. It is now 2014 and the marriage is not working. Mary and John now have built up equity in the home and nearly own the home outright. Mary wants to keep the home because she put $30,000 down for the house. Since Mary used the $30,000 towards a marital asset this $30,000 is considered marital property and will likely be divided equally even though it was given only to Mary. The key here is Mary used the $30,000 towards a marital asset and both Mary and John paid for the remainder of the home using marital funds. This mean Mary co-mingled the $30,000, meaning it is now very likely going to be considered marital property subject to equal property division during their divorce case.

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