Divorce can put into question ownership of inheritance

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2016 | Property Division

When a New York resident makes a plan for his personal estate, he may include distributions of money or property to those individuals who he loves. When he passes on, the people that he has identified in his will or estate plan may receive, subject to state probate and intestacy laws, the items identified for them by the decedent. An inheritance generally passes only to the individual identified in the estate plan and not equally to that individual and his or her spouse unless such an arrangement is contemplated in the estate plan.

However, when a person who has received an inheritance divorces the property given to him through another person’s estate may be subject to review and distribution during the property division process. Whether the inherited property was received and maintained as separate property can be important during this analysis.

Separate property usually stays the property of the individual owner after a divorce though separate property that is comingled with jointly-held property can be converted into marital property for property settlement purposes. Therefore, how an individual saves or uses the property or money he receives through an inheritance can make a big difference with regard to how a court will divided at the end of a marriage.

Individuals who stand to gain significant inheritances or who have received inheritances prior to their marriages can choose to stipulate how those assets will be divided in the event of divorce in prenuptial agreements. However, such agreements are also carefully reviewed during the divorce process and can be overturned if they are not made in accordance with the laws of the state.

Inherited wealth can be a blessing for some who receive property and money from the deceased loved ones. However, wealth acquired in this manner can be divided during a divorce if it is used by both a beneficiary and his spouse. To learn more about how an inheritance may be addressed during a divorce-related property settlement, readers may choose to speak with New York family law attorneys.