Inherited Assets Upon Divorce or Separation
It is very common for couples that are divorcing or separating to have questions relation to assets that have been inherited or acquired before the marriage.
Some of the most common question are:
What happens if I owned property before I got married?
I have bought a property or other assets since separating?
I received inheritance, is this part of the matrimonial ‘pot’?
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In most cases, all assets of the marriage are pooled and treated as part of the “matrimonial pot”. This means that all of these items are available for distribution between both parties. If you have inherited assets such as a property, it is not automatically included in the pot and sometimes is classified as a “non-matrimonial asset.”
Inherited assets will be specific to each individual case and often depend on some key factors about the inheritance and marriage status upon receiving them.
Key considerations in relation to past inheritance are:
- The size of the inheritance.
- When the inheritance was received.
- How has the inheritance been utilised during the marriage?
Any inherited assets that have been transferred to joint names or used for the benefit of the couple/family are likely to form part of the ‘pot’ of matrimonial assets available for division.
If the Inherited assets were received during the breakdown of a marriage or even shortly after, they are less likely to be included in the matrimonial pot of assets to be distributed to both parties. However, there are factors which could alter this, such as a requirement to meet the future needs of the couple and their children. Reasonable needs may result in some or all of the inherited assets going into the matrimonial post for distribution.
Future Inheritance Prospects
Assets that may be inherited after a marriage are usually uncertain by nature and are not usually taken into account by a court when considering a financial settlement on divorce. However, where there is an expectation of an imminent or significant inheritance, the court may take this into account and sometimes financial proceedings, or aspects of them, are adjourned until the inheritance has been received.
Protecting Inherited Assets: Marital Agreements
If protecting your assets is something you wish to do, you and your partner can consider entering into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement.
Pre nuptial agreements lay out how you intent to deal with any assets, finances and property should you separate in the future. If you would like to know more about pre-nuptial agreements, you can get in touch with Youngs Law and we can help guide you through the process.
If you have any questions about your inherited assets, please fill out a contact form or call us on 033 33 582 588 and speak to an experienced member of our team.
For information about Legal Aid services, visit our Legal Aid page.