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Can divorced fathers protect their child’s inheritance?

Minnesota fathers who are divorced or are unmarried still retain the right to pass on an inheritance to their children. In some cases, a father's children might have reached adulthood and have gotten married. However, a divorced father might feel apprehensive about leaving their married child an inheritance, since inherited assets can sometimes be divided up in a divorce. Fortunately, fathers have options to help keep their child's inheritance safe.

As Findlaw points out, inheritances are not at risk in a divorce so long as the inheritance was not comingled with marital property. Even though someone might receive an inheritance during marriage, an inheritance is still counted as separate property. However, if a person inherits a sum of money and deposits it in a joint account, that money is typically counted as marital property from that point forward. Fathers can discuss with their children what to do to make sure their inheritance is not counted as marital property.

Even assuming that an adult child does not co-mingle an inheritance with a spouse’s property, that does not mean the inheritance is free of risk. A divorced father, having experienced the divorce process already, might still be apprehensive about their child losing the inheritance if the child’s spouse files for divorce. A divorced father may even worry that his own former spouse may try to claim his child’s inheritance. 

Among the steps a divorced or unmarried father can take to safeguard a child's inheritance is to specify in his will that the inheritance is solely for his child and nobody else, though if the child still co-mingles the inherited asset with a spouse, this stipulation can be voided. Another option is to set up a trust in the child’s name. Placing a child’s inheritance in a trust may be more effective since a trust can shield the inheritance from a child’s potential ex-spouse or the divorced father’s own former spouse.

Be aware that while this article is written to inform readers on fathers’ rights, it does not constitute legal advice.

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