Entitlement of Spouses in Inheritance Money
Divorces can be difficult. Not just emotionally but economically as well. There are many problems that may arise when dividing the assets between two people who are going through a divorce. Most of the assets are divided in an unbiased and fair way. But it is not necessary that the assets will be split equally. When it comes to the inheritance money of any of the spouses or is a spouse entitled to inheritance money, it starts off a completely different debate.
Some people receive their inheritance during their married life. They might have merged the amount or the assets with those of their spouse. The purpose of this article is to understand the spouse’s entitlement in each other’s inheritance money.
Understanding Basic Inheritance Laws
In order to understand the entitlement of a spouse in inheritance, the first thing to understand are the different laws and regulations regarding it. Inheritance money does not lie in the category of “equitable” distribution. They are treated as a separate entity. Inheritance is separate property. Their rights and benefits can only be accessed by the person to whom the inheritance was granted. This is why it is a general rule to not distribute inheritance among the spouse during the process of divorce.
On the other hand, if the inheritance was shared between the two spouses during the time of their marriage, different laws can apply to it. This can happen in the condition that the inheritance amount was used for joint expenses in the tenure of their marriage. In such scenarios, the inheritance ceases to remain a separate property. Mostly, both spouses will have their own share in the inheritance of one of the spouses. Different states have different laws which can be applied on the shared inheritance. Some states have more rigid laws as compared to others.
Is a Spouse Entitled To Inheritance Money?
Laws to Divide Inheritance
Most of the laws regarding the assets division, inheritance and otherwise, in different states are the same. There can be a few minor differences pertaining to these laws in different states but all in all they are quite similar to one another.
Community Property Law
This is the most common law that is used for the division of assets amongst the divorcing spouses. The couple must obey the laws of state when working through their assets. The judges try to divide the assets between the couple as justly as possible. This means that they go through the past earnings and how much property an individual spouse owns.
The spouse which earns more will more likely have a bigger hand in creating the assets of the couple. This means that the higher earning spouse should be able to receive a larger share in the asset. As long as the inheritance is kept separate, as per the community property law, there is little to no chance that it will have to be distributed amongst the two spouses at the time of divorce.
As described above, if a spouse shares their inheritance in a joint account, it is more than likely that their property will be treated as a shared one. This process is known as commingling. Its simple definition is that it is an inheritance given to one spouse and is shared by both for living or other mutual expenses. It is shared in the funds of both the spouses.
In such a case, there is little to no chance that a judge will not divide such inheritance among both of the spouses. Divorce process is already complicated. commingling is a simple process which needs to be understood beforehand to reduce any bad blood between the divorcing spouses.
If a spouse has a shared inheritance but at the time of divorce proves that they were not willing to share their inheritance or due to some reason was unable to understand that their inheritance is being shared. In this situation, a judge might give some relaxation and will grant the spouse their inheritance which they were given individually.
*In order to ensure that no unfair measures are taken in terms of inheritance during divorce, couples must ensure that they keep their inheritance (money or assets) in separate accounts. This will reduce any complications that may occur in the future.
Divorces are a complicated process. They exhaust a person both mentally and emotionally. Furthermore, the division of assets can become even more complicated and increase any hard or bad feelings that may already exist between the spouses. Inheritance laws are even hard to understand and apply when there is a divorce involved as well. This is why inheritance should not be shared between the spouses and kept in a single account. It is important to hire a divorce lawyer who has sufficient experience in this area so that the whole process can be smooth and without further complications.