Inheritance and Divorce – What are you entitled to?

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Inheritance and divorce are two significant life events that can have complex legal implications. Understanding the connection between these two areas of law is crucial to ensure fair outcomes and protect the interests of all parties involved. In England and Wales, inheritance is not automatically included in a divorce settlement. However, there are some circumstances in which the court may consider it.

If you need an experienced inheritance and divorce solicitor to assist you with your queries, please get in touch with Expert Family Law today. We can put you in touch with the most appropriate legal professional for your case.

What is Inheritance?

Inheritance is the transfer of property, money, or other assets from one person to another after the first person dies. In the UK, inheritance can be received from a number of sources, including:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Other relatives
  • Friends
  • Charities

 

Inheritance and Divorce Laws

The UK has well-established inheritance laws that govern how assets are distributed upon an individual’s death. The law allows individuals to exercise testamentary freedom, meaning they can decide how their estate should be distributed through a legally valid will. However, some legal provisions safeguard certain individuals who may have a rightful claim to the estate, even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the will.

For instance, spouses or civil partners have statutory rights to claim against the estate, irrespective of what is specified in the will. Additionally, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 provides protection for children, cohabitants, and other dependants who may have been excluded from the will.

Divorce in the UK falls under family law, and the legal framework aims to achieve a fair distribution of assets and financial resources upon the termination of a marriage. The court considers a range of factors, including the duration of the marriage, financial contributions made by each spouse, earning capacities, and the welfare of any children involved.

During divorce proceedings, all assets, including inheritance received during the marriage or after separation, are typically taken into account when determining the division of property, savings, pensions, and other financial holdings. The court has discretionary powers, allowing for a flexible approach to determining a fair settlement that ensures both parties can adequately move forward financially.

How is Inheritance Affected by Divorce?

In general, inheritance is not automatically included in a divorce settlement. This means that if one spouse inherits money or property during the marriage, the other spouse is not entitled to a share. However, there are some circumstances in which the court may consider inheritance as part of the matrimonial pot when dividing assets in a divorce. If a spouse received an inheritance during the marriage and it was used by both spouses in a joint account for the matrimonial home, for example, then the inheritance may be treated as a matrimonial asset by the court during divorce proceedings.

The court may also consider inheritance if it is necessary to meet the needs of both parties’ financial situations after the divorce. For example, if one spouse is unable to work due to ill health, the court may consider using inheritance to provide them with financial support and a fair standard of living.

When inheritance becomes a factor in a divorced the court will consider it as part of the overall financial picture. Inherited assets may be divided between the parties, depending on various circumstances. The court’s objective is to achieve fairness and ensure that both parties can meet their needs post-divorce. It is also worth remembering that under the laws in England and Wales, any inherited property does not automatically get split between spouses. It is up to the court if the inherited property should even be included in the matrimonial assets.

Any future inheritance that may be received following a divorce will generally not be seen as a joint asset by the court due to a number of factors, such as the unknown value of future inheritance and the timescales it may become available.

Inheritance received during a marriage may also be protected by a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement that spouses may have signed.

How can Expert Family Law assist?

If you seek legal advice regarding inheritance and divorce proceedings, our Expert Family Law team is happy to assist. We work with a range of experienced firms across the country to provide our clients with the most appropriate legal professional for their case.

We ensure that the solicitors on our panel have the skills and experience required to assist in your legal case. We can assure you that your case will be dealt with in a compassionate and understanding manner, aiming to ensure you receive the financial settlement you deserve following a breakdown of a marriage.

Each solicitor we work with is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Get in touch today using the form at the top of the page to find out if a divorce solicitor from our panel could help with your case.

 

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