25 Aug Inheritance and Divorce in Missouri
Inheritance and Divorce in Missouri is an important concept and one that is routinely litigated in Court. In Missouri, the default rule is splitting all “marital property” down the middle. Parties spend most of their times trying to either reclassify the property as separate (called transmutation), hence not having to split it, or to prove their deserve a higher contribution. Inheritances are still one of the largest chunks of money and assets that people will receive at one time. So it is an important issue to review.
The old traditional rule was that an inheritance was separate property until it had been “commingled”. Property is commingled when it is mixed together. So using a cash inheritance to buy something for the house used to transform the value of the inheritance from separate to marital. This was revised circa 1998. The legislature passed a law specifically saying that “commingling” alone is not enough. Judges have interpreted that to mean that the party must show both commingling and intent to convert it into marital funds.
Joint titling is considered evidence of intent. For instance, there was a case where one spouse came into the marriage with a large amount of separate property. Together with his spouse, they bought and sold three residences, titling each one together as a married couple. Most of the down payment on the initial purchase came from his separate property. During the divorce, the Court decided that the value of that separate property that was used to purchase the house had been commingled because all of their subsequent houses were titled jointly. The title was the evidence of intent.
The Court has also held that depositing money into a joint checking account and then using that to reinvest in another marital asset is intent of commingling. In that case, the money was held in a checking account and used throughout the marriage until depleted. During the divorce, the spouse that received the money tried to transmute it to separate property. The Court decided it was marital based upon the commingling into a joint account and then subsequent use in for marital assets.
Inheritance and divorce in Missouri is determined case by case based upon your particular facts. Keeping the funds as separately as possible will go far to show a person’s intent to keep the property separate. Also, the inheriting spouse can request that the “contribution”- if the Court deems it to be- should be taken into account when dividing marital property. This is a complicated area and law. If you are impacted, I recommend talking to an Attorney to protect your property interests.