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New York family law: How does divorce affect inherited assets?

When couples in New York or elsewhere choose to end their marriages, they will likely have numerous questions about property division. It is understandable that both parties will want to walk away from the union with terms each feels is fair. When getting a divorce, though, there may be concerns about what is considered separate versus marital property -- particularly when it comes to assets given as gifts or received as inheritances. One's family law attorney will be able to go into great detail about this topic.

Generally speaking, property or money received as inheritance is considered the personal property of the individual to whom it was given. However, one must be careful with what he or she does with said inheritance. Once funds or care of real estate have been co-mingled, one's spouse may be entitled to make claims on the asset during the divorce process.

Of course, intent does matter when it comes to subjecting an inheritance to division. If it can be established that one did not intend to commingle one's personal assets, those assets may be kept in the realm of personal property. Proving intent is not always easy, though.

For those who receive inheritances before marriage, it is possible to protect such assets with a prenuptial agreement. However, those who receive them after the union is made official, how the inheritance is managed will determine how it is treated in the event of divorce. With the assistance of a family law attorney, divorcing couples in New York can get answers to all of their property division questions, including how inheritances may be protected from distribution.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance and Divorce", Accessed on Sept. 2, 2016

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