Inheritance and Divorce
Are you worried that your inheritance will be thrown into the ring of your financial settlement? Here are 3 key questions that your divorce solicitor should ask when looking to protect inheritance from being shared with your spouse.
Warning: Before we go in depth on inheritance and divorce, it is important to emphasize that divorce is not the same as financial proceedings. If you get divorced, but do not create a financial agreement or Court order, then you might be open to a claim from your ex-spouse. It is vital to make sure that you deal with finances at the same time as dealing with your divorce. If you are divorced, but never dealt with the finances or property, contact our legal team urgently.
1. Did you receive your inheritance before or during your marriage?
Financial proceedings can be negotiated between couples and their solicitors, but sometimes will go to Court if the couple cannot agree. The Courts or the solicitors involved will divide assets into two pots: ‘matrimonial’ and ‘non-matrimonial’. Everything in the matrimonial pot will be divided between the two parties as part of the financial agreement.
If an asset, such as a property, was inherited before the marriage, it may be included in the matrimonial pot. This will depend on factors such as:
- When the inheritance was received
- How long the couple were married
- The size of the inheritance and if it was used to benefit the marriage or family
- The financial needs of both parties
- 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.
Solicitors and Courts look to make sure that both spouses and their children are able to maintain the same standard of living as during the marriage. It might be deemed that an asset inherited before the marriage should be treated as matrimonial because it has been used in the marriage, such as a property that has become the matrimonial home. Assets might also be included to meet both parties’ financial needs.
If you inherited assets during your marriage, there is a high likelihood that the Court would consider them part of the matrimonial pot. You might be able to prevent this by creating a post-nuptial agreement to ring-fence assets.
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 only way to know if your inheritance is likely to be included in the financial settlement is by speaking to an expert divorce and finance solicitor.
Divorce and Separation
Going through a relationship breakdown can be difficult enough without confusing legal jargon and worries about the process. Our free guide walks you through the divorce process, the first 3 steps you should take, and the different routes available to get the best outcome.
2. Are you expecting to receive an inheritance after divorce?
If you are thinking about Divorce and are worried about a future inheritance, it will be a relief to hear that, in the majority of cases, money or property you are expecting to inherit in future are not automatically included in the matrimonial pot. It is worth noting, however, that if you divorce but do not create a financial settlement, you could be vulnerable to a claim from your ex-spouse in future – so it is very important to deal with the finances when you divorce.
While future inheritances are not often taken into account when dealing with the financial aspects of a divorce, 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. This is why it is key to have an expert divorce and finances solicitor to advise you on how to protect yourself and your inheritance.
3. Have you made a pre or post nuptial agreement?
Pre-nuptial (made before the marriage) or post-nuptial (made during the marriage) agreements can be very helpful to ring-fence assets. A good pre or post nuptial agreement drafted by an expert family law solicitor has the power to influence the Court decision in relation to capital and income provisions quite significantly. If you are not divorced and have assets that you wish to “ring fence”, such as a family business, property, or sentimental possessions, a post-nuptial agreement may be suitable for you.
Protecting Your Inheritance in a Divorce with Burt Brill & Cardens
Our five-star rated divorce team fight hard to protect our clients’ interests. We have a specialist divorce and finance team ready and waiting to help you. To speak to an expert solicitor about your inheritance and any concerns you have relating to your divorce, call us on 01273 604 123 or complete our online enquiry form .
Not ready to speak to a solicitor? Download our free guide to Divorce and Separation for more information about Divorce.
Burt Brill & Cardens have supported me for the last two years, sorting out what at the time felt to be a complicated and nearly impossible divorce... someone as experienced, understanding, down-to-earth and highly supportive was more than I could have hoped for.