Is My Ex-Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance?

Is My Ex-Spouse Entitled to My Inheritance?



Category: Estates | Inheritances

If you are divorced, recently separated, or are considering divorce proceedings, you may be wondering if your ex-spouse is entitled to make a claim for any of your inheritance. In this article, we help to put you in the picture as to what you can expect in a number of instances related to divorce and inheritance.

Read on to see how things could affect you.

When inheritance is received during or before the marriage

If you received an inheritance before you were married and your ex-husband or wife benefitted from it, then it’s possible that your ex can make a claim on it. In cases where your inheritance was received during the marriage, inheritance can often be classed as ‘joint property’ or as a benefit to the family unit and your ex could therefore make a claim on it.

When inheritance is received after marriage

Although many people may believe that once you are divorced there will be no further dealings with your ex-spouse in the future, when it comes to inheritance, if your ex did not marry, they can make a claim for your estate while you are living or have passed away.

If it’s likely that you will be receiving an inheritance in the future but you are going through a divorce right now, it will typically not be included in a financial agreement. If it is expected in the more immediate future, then this is different and it could be included. If there has not been a Clean Break Order or Financial Consent Order then your ex could be entitled. Similarly, after you die, your ex can make a claim if they didn’t remarry or there was no formal agreement or consent order. In addition, it’s possible for them to claim if it’s brought within 6 months of a Grant of Probate being obtained.

What can I do to protect my future inheritance from an ex?

If you are concerned that your ex-spouse will be able to legitimately access your inheritance now or in the future, there are a number of paths you can take.

Post-nuptial agreements

Firstly, having either a pre or post-nuptial agreement can help to protect your inheritance. Although neither are legally binding documents, they can have some sway with a judge during divorce proceedings, especially if they have been well drafted by a lawyer with experience of these agreements. Within the agreements, the ownership of certain assets will be identified and there will be details on how finances should be split in the event of a divorce. The overriding rule for judges is as always, the pursuit of overall fairness in your case.

Estate and inheritance planning

The person who is potentially leaving an inheritance or passing on assets for you will be able to make plans for it to go to you in particular and no one else. This is called Estate Planning. If they wish to do this, they should do it in the here and now.

Enter into a consent order

A Consent Order is a document outlining the financial arrangement between you and your ex-spouse. It needs to be approved by the court and when it is, it becomes legally binding. This order can prevent a former spouse from making a claim for finances in the future.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are several things to consider when it comes to divorce and inheritance. Some couples are surprised by their legal position and some are more aware. If you are not sure of all the facts and how your situation may be viewed legally, it’s always worth speaking to a divorce lawyer with experience in inheritance cases.

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