In most cases, inheritances are considered separate property. Therefore, they are generally not subject to being divided during a divorce in New York. However, there may be an exception if inherited funds were commingled with marital funds. For example, commingling might occur if money inherited from a deceased parent was placed into a joint bank account. The same could be true if money was kept in a separate bank account but used to maintain a marital home.
Funds could be considered to be commingled if money a spouse earned was deposited into an account used to hold an inheritance. An individual might attempt to claim that there was no intention of commingling money or other assets inherited from a family member. While it’s possible to prove this assertion in court, the person making the claim faces the burden of proof, which is typically a high one to meet.
As a general rule, any money or property brought into a marriage is considered to be separate property. Therefore, this property wouldn’t be subject to the property division process regardless of when it was acquired or how a person acquired it. Those who are worried about potentially commingling assets are encouraged to create a prenuptial agreement to safeguard their assets.
Someone involved in a high-asset divorce may have questions about how to protect items inherited from a family member. There could also be questions about assets held in a trust or otherwise outside of the estate. An attorney may be able to answer those questions and provide other insight into how a divorcing individual might obtain a favorable or reasonable outcome in a divorce proceeding.