Are Inheritances Divided in a Divorce?

Divorces can be complex, and while it’s easy to focus on major issues like child custody and which spouse will take the house, it is also important to remember the smaller details. Financial issues, such as retirement benefits, investment funds, and inheritances can get lost in the shuffle, but these issues are equally important. Whether it is your own inheritance that you are concerned with, or that of your child, it is important to know how a divorce court will typically handle inheritance.

Your Own Inheritance

When property is being divided by the court, it generally falls into two categories: marital property and separate property. Marital property is owned by both spouses and is subject to division. Separate property is owned by one spouse or the other, and is the sole property of the owning spouse. Generally speaking, an inheritance is considered separate property and is not subject to division. Even if the inheritance was received during the marriage, it would be considered the property of the inheriting spouse.

There are situations that can allow an inheritance to be divided, however. Comingling, or using the inheritance for a shared purpose, can remove the protections an inheritance may have and allow it to be divided. Actions such as depositing inherited funds into a shared account or using funds to improve marital property cause the inheritance to be considered shared property. If an inheritance has been comingled, it may be subject to division, according to the state’s laws.

Your Child’s Inheritance

There are many factors that determine the way a divorce court will handle an inheritance intended for a child. These factors include who the child’s parents are, who is divorcing, and what state the divorce is occurring in. Generally, either spouse can bequeath their own separate property without issue, as well as their share of the marital property. If you have children born outside the marriage, they are eligible to inherit your personal property by way of a will or trust.

If you are the parent of an adult child who is going through a divorce, you can ensure that their spouse will not receive a share of their inheritance by bequeathing the inheritance in their name only. You may also wish to advise them against comingling funds to ensure that they remain in control of the inheritance you leave them. A trust can help protect your child’s inheritance in case of a divorce.

If you are concerned about protecting your inheritance, or ensuring that your children will receive what you intend for them, you should consult an experienced Long Island divorce attorney. Our team at the Hedayati Law Group P.C. can help you take steps to protect your property and your children’s future. Our firm offers discreet, compassionate, and trustworthy legal counsel, and we take innovative approaches to each case to help ensure the best outcome possible.

Schedule your complimentary consultation today. Contact our offices at (631) 880-6440.

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