What's Yours Is Mine And What's Mine Is.......Do You Need To Share Inheritance Monies During Divorce?

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Property settlements during a divorce already can become ugly affairs, but when you throw inheritance money into the equation then the gloves come off, and the fight begins. As a person who is ready to file for divorce from your partner, you may be prepared to fight vigorously to keep inheritance money that has been left or is going to be left to you by a parent. After all, they were your parents, not your spouse's. But, what is the law when it comes to dividing up inheritance money? These are the points you need to know.

Do You Have An Existing Financial Agreement?

Are you part of a couple who entered into a prenuptial agreement before marriage? Prenup agreements, now known as Binding Financial Agreements, often occur when one party has many more assets than the other. However, it also happens if one party is expecting a sizeable inheritance in later years. If you already have an agreement in place, then you don't need to have too much concern about inheritance money when negotiating property division during divorce.

However, do be aware your spouse could challenge the agreement if you did not fully disclose your assets before the marriage or if it can be proven there was some fraudulent activity surrounding the signing of the agreement. If you have concerns or suspicions that a challenge of the agreement is likely, you must disclose your concerns to your family lawyer so they can give you advice on this complicated subject.

What Happens If There Is No Financial Agreement At The Time Of Separation?

If you have no financial agreement in place, the next point to consider is whether you have received the inheritance yet, or whether it is pending. This will make a difference regarding the split of the money:

  • If you have already received the inheritance money, then it will be considered part of the matrimonial property. However, it is possible to be attributed a larger portion of the estate amount during the marital property division because you brought the money into the marriage. The court will also consider how the inheritance money was spent (if it has been) and how large it was. There is no set rule in this area.
  • If the inheritance money has not yet been received, but the parent is close to death, it may still be included as part of the matrimonial property. This decision is particularly likely if you and your spouse do not have a lot of assets and the inheritance money is a sizeable amount when compared to the assets you do have. The court may award some of the inheritance to your spouse in this situation, especially if it can be proven you entered the divorce proceedings as a way to shut them out of having access to the inheritance money.
  • If the inheritance money has not yet been received and the person bequeathing the money is in excellent health, then it does not form part of the matrimonial property.

When it comes to inheritance money, it is important you have a family lawyer at your side who fully understands what you hope the outcome to be. Because the splitting of inheritance will be decided by the court if you cannot reach an amicable agreement, it is wise you know in advance what the possible outcomes are. A family lawyer, however, can give you specific advice based on the details of your circumstances. It is never wise to make assumptions when it comes to matrimonial property during divorce, so make sure you have legal advice under your belt before you enter the separation phase of your life.