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Will I have to share my inheritance?

Will I have to share my inheritance?

This is an area which often creates misunderstandings. The fact is that, usually, if an inheritance has been received before the divorce, then it forms part of what is in the pot and available for division.

It will be a resource; when it comes to dividing who gets what, it will be relevant.

Of course, it is important to acknowledge that the money or property came from one family rather than the other.

But if you are having difficulty finding enough to fund two separate households, then where any available money originally came from becomes less significant.

This can seem unfair, especially if one lot of parents has died and the other has not. There is no chance to redress the balance later, unless possibly if maintenance is still being paid.

If there is enough money to fulfil the needs of both parties and any children, then arguments that certain amounts of money or properties came from an inheritance on one side may be more forceful. In particular, the court will look at whether the inherited assets were ever used by the family as a whole, or whether they were kept separate from the main run of marital assets. If they were kept separate, the court is more likely to allot them back to the party who inherited them in the first place, as long as this will not lead to hardship for the other party. This is particularly true if the inheritance was recent. If it was a long time before the divorce, it will be much more difficult to show that it never formed part of the family pot.

So inheritances are relevant and have to be disclosed. That also goes for potential inheritances depending on how certain the inheritance is and when it is likely to likely to arise. This sounds ghoulish, but in practice is only usually relevant where there is some sort of life interest with a residuary estate already written in trust for one or other spouse. If in doubt about this, consult your solicitor.

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