What constitutes an inheritance?

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What constitutes an inheritance?

My divorce decree requires that my ex-husband give me 1/2 of “any inheritance he receives”. His mother died 7 months; they were estranged. He visited her a week before she died in the hospital, after which she asked her legal power of attorney to have my ex’s name added to all of her accounts (totaling $800,000). After her death he received these accounts; he was not named in her Will. He is now refusing to honor the terms of the divorce claiming this money is not inheritance.

Asked on August 13, 2011 Vermont

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your husband either does not understand the law or is simply trying to deceive you. These are inheritances. Just because these items were not named in a will, a trust or other testamentary device does not mean these are not inheritances. Get thee to court immediately and file a motion that he is in contempt of the divorce decree order. Bottom line, bank accounts, land and other insurance proceeds do not generally go in a will or trust if they are carefully crafted to name either a joint account owner or beneficiary to the account. If the bank account or other account names your ex husband as the beneficiary, he inherited this money and it did not need to go by will or trust because it can avoid probate simply because it automatically passes to your ex husband.


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