If you live in the state of Massachusetts, it is reasonable to ask if your inheritance is at risk during a divorce. Massachusetts law provides the court with the power to divide all the assets in a fair and equitable manner.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to your inheritance. For example, did your spouse have access to the inheritance? Was the inheritance a property that you both accessed?
How to Protect Your Inheritance During Marriage
The best way to protect your inheritance during marriage is to get a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement that you can tailor to fit your individual needs. Some people include potential inheritances in a prenuptial agreement to keep the assets separate from marital assets.
Property or Assets Inherited Before Marriage
Property or assets inherited before a marriage could be separate property if your spouse did not contribute or benefit from it.
A common occurrence is that someone receives an inheritance property before marriage and moves their family into that property. That property is now commingled because both parties use and benefit from the inheritance. The court could allow both parties to have a stake in the property.
Inheritance Received Just Before Divorce
An inheritance you receive just before filing a divorce will likely be considered separate property. Your spouse did not have a chance to use or benefit from the inheritance, so it is separate property.
Commingling Inheritance in a Divorce
If you commingle your inheritance with marital property before a divorce, then it is at risk. Commingling means mixing the inherited assets in a meaningful way during a marriage.
The best thing you can do to protect your inheritance is to keep it separate from marital assets. That means your spouse will not have access to the inheritance during or after the marriage. An example is a separate bank account that only you use and access. Documentation will help you prove that only you had access to the inheritance and that no commingling occurred.
Will Inheritance Affect Alimony?
Inheritance and alimony are two separate matters that the court will consider. However, the judge will assess assets and future potential for acquiring assets. A large inheritance could impact the need for support.
Are Future Inheritances at Risk?
Frequently, people know that they will receive an inheritance but don’t know exactly when it will come. A future inheritance is known as an expectancy interest in Massachusetts. The person offering the inheritance could potentially change their mind, which means the expectancy interest is not guaranteed.
Future inheritance is not typically at risk of being divided with a spouse.
Contact a Massachusetts Attorney for Your Inheritance Questions
You deserve to have a team of skilled attorneys by your side during the trying divorce process. For more information about protecting your inheritance and other divorce-related questions, contact the Koiles Pratt Family Law Group.