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Inheritance may not be split during divorce

Getting divorced can spark many questions about how the division of property must be handled. This is particularly true when an inheritance comes into play. Here is a glimpse at what divorcing spouses in New York can expect to happen during a divorce proceeding involving a large gift or inheritance.

A common misconception is that if a person gets an inheritance while he or she is married the inheritance is automatically marital property. In other words, it would have to be split in a just fashion in New York. After all, New York is an equitable distribution state.

The truth is that if the recipient of the inheritance keeps the gift separate from the couple's marital assets, it is a non-marital asset and, therefore, not subject to property division. For example, if a spouse received $500,000 from his parents, he could keep the money separate by putting it in an individual checking account. By placing it in the couple's joint checking account, the gift recipient would essentially be comingling the inheritance with marital property, which means the other party would legally be entitled to receive part of it.

Divorce can certainly be confusing and overwhelming for both emotional and financial reasons. However, if two spouses can find common ground when dealing with issues such as property division, they may be able to resolve their issues outside of court and thus avoid the stress and cost that comes with going to divorce trial. Either way, an attorney can provide the necessary guidance for navigating even the most complex divorce proceedings in New York.

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