Can your Partner Claim your Inheritance if you Divorce?
Many of our clients want to know exactly what will happen to their inheritance after divorce and in particular if their inheritance is split.
Generally, in divorce settlements in England and Wales all assets of the marriage are pooled and treated as joint assets. Money or property that you’ve inherited are not automatically excluded from the assets to be divided.
Every case is different and depends on individual circumstances including the size of the inheritance, when you received it, how it was dealt with during the marriage, and what the financial needs are of both parties. The financial needs of one or both parties may mean that inherited assets have to go into the ‘pot’.
Although each case is different, we are able to share some guidelines based on our experience and previous court cases. We have split them into past inheritances and future inheritances (those yet to be received but due).
Past Inheritances and Divorce
The key questions when it comes to past inheritance and divorce are the size of the inheritance, when it was received, how it has been used and the financial needs of the parties and if there are children at the time of the divorce.
A recent Court of Appeal case has set out some useful guidelines:
- Each case depends on the individual facts and circumstances
- If inherited assets are transferred to joint names or used for the benefit of the couple/family, they are likely to form part of the ‘pot’ of matrimonial assets available for division by the Court
- Inherited assets received shortly before the breakdown of the marriage are less likely to be included in the matrimonial assets for division, depending on whether the other assets are sufficient to meet the couple’s or family’s future needs
- The needs of the family, especially where there are minor children, will be the overriding consideration and if the only way to meet those needs is by transferring inherited assets or assets deriving from them, to the other party, the Court may do this.
Future Inheritance and Divorce
Usually future inheritances are not taken into account when dealing with the financial aspects of a divorce, but they may be if it is expected that the person making the bequest will die in the near future and the future inheritance is likely to be substantial. Sometimes Courts may even adjourn the proceedings until the inheritance is received.
Protecting Your Inheritance in a Divorce
QualitySolicitors Large and Gibson fight hard to protect our clients’ interests. We have a team specialising in family law and are ready and waiting to help you. We will advise you of all of your legal rights and options.