Question from Joe, Are Inheritances Shared in a Divorce in New York State if the Family Member Died During the Marriage but the Money is Received After the Divorce?
Answer from AI:
In general, New York State law considers inheritances as separate property, not marital property. This means that, typically, inheritances are not divided between spouses in a divorce. However, there are exceptions and complexities to this rule, and the timing of the inheritance can play a role.
Understanding Marital Property vs. Separate Property
In New York, when a couple divorces, their property is divided into two categories: marital property and separate property.
- Marital property includes most assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title.
- Separate property includes assets owned by either spouse before the marriage, personal injury awards, and inheritances received by one spouse, even if received during the marriage.
According to the New York State Unified Court System, marital property is divided equitably (fairly), not necessarily equally, in a divorce. Separate property remains with the spouse who owns it.
When Does an Inheritance Become Marital Property?
There are situations where separate property, including an inheritance, can become marital property. This is known as “commingling.” If an inheritance is mixed with marital property to the point where it can’t be distinguished, it may be considered marital property. For example, if inheritance money is deposited into a joint bank account and used for marital expenses, it could be considered commingled.
What Happens if the Inheritance is Received After the Divorce?
If a family member died during the marriage but the inheritance is received after the divorce, it is generally still considered separate property. The key factor is when the right to receive the inheritance was established, which is typically the date of the family member’s death.
However, the specifics of your situation could affect this general rule. For example, if the inheritance was expected and was a factor in the financial planning of the marriage, a court might consider it in the division of assets.
Seeking Legal Advice
Given the complexities of property division in a divorce, it’s important to consult with a legal professional for personalized advice. A lawyer can help you understand how the law applies to your specific situation and can guide you through the process.
Remember, this information is a general guide and not legal advice. Laws can change, and every situation is different. Always consult with a legal professional for advice on your specific circumstances.