Inheritance Disputes

We are aware of the best and recent cases on inheritances in divorce and separation.  The problem (or the opportunity) is that there are inconsistencies and we can find a case to support both sides.  This is easy if the other side doesn’t know the state of the law but otherwise requires negotiation, persuasion and perhaps compromise. It is very easy to be involved in litigation over inheritance assets in divorce due to the uncertainty.  Knowing when to press and when to compromise these issues is a real skill and challenge for Family Lawyers today.

An inheritance is a contribution by one party only usually.  It is taken into account.  The question is how much is it taken into account? Do you get it back in full?  Usually No.  Sometimes Yes.  Do you get most of it back? Usually Yes.  Sometimes No.

Consider a Husband who inherits in the latter years of a relationship prior to separating from his wife. Some judges have concluded that the wife has made no contribution, so the husband keeps the inheritance. However, based on the fact that the husband is wealthier and has the financial resource he then pays the wife more of the other assets, or a smaller percentage of the inheritance.  This is a good scenario for the husband.

Another line of cases says that the wife in this example did contribute to the inheritance, probably by indirect contributions to other assets and family.  This gives the separated wife direct access to the inheritance asset in a divorce.  This is a good scenario for the wife.

A third approach is that the husband’s inheritance may be taken into account if there are few other assets to otherwise provide the wife with a settlement sum. Again, based on the fact that the husband is wealthier and has the financial resource he then pays the wife a smaller percentage of the inheritance if there isn’t otherwise a decent pool of assets to divide.  This is a good scenario for the wife always and sometimes for the husband.

As you can see there are arguments to be made by a knowledgeable family lawyer.  We add value by stressing the legitimate cases that match your scenario to the other party and if necessary, the judge.  Of course, we always need to know when to remove the risk that legal uncertainty brings and when to compromise and get our clients out of the legal system.