When a divorce occurs, parties may wonder if the other spouse willbe able to make a claim on an inheritance acquired during marriage. For instance, if a family member leaves a spouse a bequest, but omits the other spouse, it’s considered to be acquired during the marriage. Here, the disposition of those assets may determine whether the holder has to give up a portion during divorce.
The Basics of Inheritance During Marriage
Most inheritances aren’t under the rules of equitable distribution, because they are not regarded as marital property. Rather, an inheritance is treated as belonging to the receiver, and cannot be divided during a divorce. However, some laws govern the treatment of inheritances that are shared, and those laws vary widely.
For instance, if the funds are put into a joint account and are used to pay marital expenses or to make improvements to the marital home, the inheritance is no longer immune. Commingling is very important; if a person’s separate property is used to benefit the marriage, it’s no longer considered separate, and can be divided during the divorce.
Inheritances Acquired Before Marriage
In some cases, a spouse will enter the marriage with wealth acquired through an inheritance. Jurisdictional law determines how these inheritances are treated in divorce. Once more, if the funds are put into a joint account, or if marital funds are put into the inheritance account, commingling has taken place. If no commingling occurs, the inheritance belongs to the receiver alone. The best way to protect one’s premarital assets is to consult a divorce lawyer in Lynbrook, NY on how prenuptial agreements work.
While it’s generally held that commingling funds converts a solely held asset into a marital one, some courts believe that some or none of the funds remain the receiver’s separate property if the receiver can prove that they never planned to share the money. However, the standard of proof is very high, and one wishing to contest the division of an inheritance should consult a family law attorney at Simon & Milner. By speaking to a divorce lawyer Lynbrook, NY, clients can learn how to protect their inheritance or how they can get what’s rightfully theirs.