Can my partner or ex-partner claim my inheritance?
Let me answer a question with a question (or two!)
Have you received the inheritance or is this an anticipated inheritance?
If it is anticipated, is the deceased estate currently in the administration phase – meaning the person has passed away or lost capacity?
Is the inheritance only probable at some unknown point in the future, assuming the person bequeathing the estate does not change their will in the future?
If the inheritance has been received – when was it received? How much was received? Who was the beneficiary named in the Will? What happened to the funds when they were received?
Did the other person provide care or assistance to the person who bequeathed the gift?
As you can see the answer to the first question is dependent on a multitude of factors which relate to timing, amount and application of the funds or property.
Here are some general principals that may or may not apply to your individual circumstances:
- An inheritance received during a relationship is a relevant contribution in any property settlement. The significance of the contribution will depend upon how much, what it was spent on and when it was received and by whom in the relationship. It will also be weighed against other relevant contributions.
- A large inheritance received late in the relationship or post separation will most likely remain with the person who received this, but it will still be included in the assets and liabilities considered in the property settlement division between parties to the relationship.
- If an inheritance was received early in the relationship and has been spent by the parties on lifestyle or general living costs as opposed to acquisition or improvement of property then the contribution may not be as relevant, but it will not be ignored in the property settlement.
- An inheritance expected to be received may be a financial resource to the party expecting to receive this provided – the estate is currently being administered or the person bequeathing has lost capacity and is not expected to survive long term.
- An inheritance that may happen at some unknown point in the future from a person who has capacity to up their will at any point in the future will not be consider in a family law property settlement.
It is important to remember that an inheritance, regardless of when it was received is only one of a multitude of factors that are considered in determining how the assets and liabilities of parties are divided post separation. It is important that you get legal advice which is specifically tailored to your individual circumstances. It is also important that you can produce evidence about the inheritance and the expenditure or investment of these funds. Relevant evidence can include:
- a copy of the will and distribution schedule from the estate;
- bank statements showing the receipt and expenditure of the funds received;
- details of property transferred;
- details of any investment and re-investment of the funds.
This evidence can help us to advise you about how your inheritance will be dealt with in your property settlement. For more information, contact Future Family Law for specific advice tailored to your individual situation.