Wisconsin law provides that gifted and inherited money, even if received during marriage, is generally separate and individual property. Because gifts and inheritances are separate property, you are free to spend and use your separate property in any way you like.  However, don’t forget that in Wisconsin property is generally divided on a 50/50 basis.  There are rules regarding comingled accounts, contributions and tracing of separate property, so it is in your best interests to protect your separate property if a divorce is imminent…and before!

The following factors increase the likelihood that gifted and inherited property will be your individual property during the marriage and in the course of any divorce:

  1. The property has been kept separate from other marital assets, such as in a separate account in which no marital funds are ever deposited.
  2. Titled in your name only.
  3. Clearly identified as individual property.
  4. Not comingled with any other marital assets.
  5. Your spouse has not contributed to its care, operation or improvement (this would apply, for example, if you inherited a home).

It is less likely that your inheritance or gifted property will be allocated solely to you if the property was comingled with other assets, if your spouse’s name is on the title of the property or your spouse has contributed to the increase in the value of the inheritance or gift.

Marriage is made in heaven, so this blogging advice may not apply to you.  But in case it does, the foregoing steps will guide you in maintaining the independence of any gifted or inherited property.  Consult your Wisconsin divorce attorney for further analysis.