New Jersey Divorce Attorney Explains How an Inheritance is Treated
As a New Jersey Divorce Attorney, I am often asked how inheritance is treated in a divorce. Inheritance can be a challenging topic. If one of the parties has inherited some cash or real estate during the course of the marriage, the question becomes, “Is my inheritance now subject to equitable distribution?” The answer is always fact-sensitive, and my standard answer is, “Well, it depends.” By that, I mean the answer depends on exactly how that inheritance was handled.
For instance, if you inherited a piece of real property – maybe it was your grandparents’ vacation home – and you continued to vacation in it, using some inherited cash to maintain. The property always remained separate, and all of the money that was used to maintain that property came from separate money – money that was not earned during the marriage. In such a scenario, that asset will probably remain yours at the conclusion of the divorce.
We run into difficulties when an inheritance is commingled with the couple’s marital assets. For example, you inherited $50,000 from your grandparents, which you then put into your join marital account. Once you did that, because you commingled that money with marital funds, your inheritance that could have been protected is suddenly subject to equitable distribution. Similarly, if you inherit a piece of property from a family member and you use marital money – maybe a windfall from a bonus you just received – to rehab that property which was in disrepair. At that point, you have used marital money to improve an inherited asset.
Several factors can affect the dynamics surrounding ownership rights to inherited property in the event of a divorce, and you’ll need to work closely with your attorney to trace the details and determine whether or not the inherited property is actually subject to equitable distribution.
Are you concerned how your inheritance will be divided in a divorce? Contact New Jersey Divorce Attorney Tanya L. Freeman for navigation.