When two individuals dissolve their marriage in Massachusetts, questions may arise regarding whether one spouse can claim rights to the inheritance funds of the other party if these funds were acquired during their marriage. For instance, one spouse’s great aunt may have passed away and left the spouse certain assets in her will without mentioning the other party. What the recipient of these assets does with them might influence whether he or she will have to part ways with a percentage of it during divorce.
In general, an inheritance is not subject to the equitable, or fair, distribution of property. This is the case because according to the law, an inheritance is not deemed marital property. Rather, it is considered separate property that belongs to the person who received it.
However, if inheritance funds are placed in a joint bank account and are used for marital expenses, the inheritance will lose its immunity. This is because the inheritance money was essentially co-mingled with joint funds. In the same way, if inheritance funds are used to improve the marital home, the inheritance might lose its immunity.
Getting a divorce in Massachusetts can understandably be complicated, especially when inheritance money is at the center of a divorce proceeding. An attorney can help with determining what one’s rights are in a given situation involving property division. The attorney’s ultimate goal is to ensure that a client’s rights are protected and that a personally favorable outcome is attained in light of the circumstances surrounding the divorce.
Source: findlaw.com, “Inheritance and Divorce“, Accessed on Aug. 7, 2017