Jump to Navigation

How a divorce affects inheritance

Divorce is a difficult process that affects all shared property, which is at least anything the spouses acquired together during the marriage. However, in some cases, divorce can affect a person's inheritance from a family member or colleague.

Inheritances are generally not considered marital property - an asset gained during a marriage - so an equal split between spouses is rare. If it shared, however, rules vary by state on how cash or assets may be divided or recovered by an heir or heiress.

If an inheritance is used to increase or improve the quality of marital assets, such as home renovation or supplementing a joint trust fund, it may be considered marital property and subject to division.

If a spouse inherited before marriage took place, the principle is usually similar. An unshared bequest is individual property and may be retained as a whole by the spouse who received it.

If the funds were used to improve marital assets, or money was deposited from an inheritance into a shared account during marriage, they may be subject to 'equitable distribution' - an even split between spouses.

Large inheritances that are received before marriage are prime reasons to create a prenuptial agreement with an attorney during the marriage process. This will set a legal framework for the assets' disposition in the case of a divorce.

In addition, some jurisdictions may allow an inheriting spouse to recover a bequest as a whole from a shared account. This can only be the case if there is proof that the spouse did not intend to share the assets or use them to improve marital property.

An experienced divorce lawyer can assist with filing divorce papers and ensuring that a settlement agreement exists for an inheritance once divorce is finalized.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance and Divorce," accessed July 14, 2017

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Contact Us

Weinstein, Kaplan & Cohen, P.C.
Attorneys at Law

1325 Franklin Avenue
Suite 210
Garden City, NY 11530-1631

Phone: (800) 722-1342
Fax: (516) 877-7760

E-mail the Firm

Case Evaluation Form

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Located just minutes from the Nassau County Supreme Court, Weinstein, Kaplan & Cohen, P.C. has provided premium family law and business law services to clients throughout New York for almost three decades.


AV Rated

CV, BV and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies.