If inheritance is considered shared property and needs to be paid

Will half of an inheritance need to be paid to spouse if this money did not have her name on it? The money was used for funeral expenses in a country that uses cash only. Will the court demand half payment of this inheritance to wife? Need this info by 7/6 as there is an immenent court date. Thank you!!!!!

Asked on July 4, 2009 under Family Law, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

New York is an "equitable distribution" state.  Pursuant to this, separate property is defined as: property acquired before the marriage, by gift from anyone other than the spouse, or property acquired by "bequest, devise, descent", in other words inheritance.  All else is considered to be marital property. 

If the inheritance was in your name only, and not mixed with marital assets, then it is your separate property.

You may want to consider consulting with an attorney about this any any other matters pertaining to your divorce action.

S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

An inheritance during the marriage is not deemed marital property subject to equitable distribution as long as you keep it separate from marital funds. Another words, when you receive the money, if you do not mix it with a marital account you are okay. If you mix it with marital monies, there may be an argument that you made it marital. This is true even if you put it in an account which has only your name but was openend during the marriage. I recomend that you open a separate account in your name only for this account. Thus there will be no questions that you mixed the money.

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