YOURLifeChoices member Mary has recently separated from her husband. As she only received a small settlement, she would like to know if she will be entitled to any future inheritance her husband receives.
I often read your segments on different questions people ask and I am hoping you can help me with this one. After 25 years of marriage, I am recently separated. I left with only a small amount of money and no formal separation agreement. My husband will inherit a very substantial amount of money after his mother passes away (she is nearly ninety). My question is – will I be entitled to any of the inheritance seeing as we were together for so long? Would it make any difference to my entitlement if we were divorced or separated? Or, will I legally be left out to dry?
A. Provided by Maria Monastiriotis, Accredited Family Law Specialist, Slater & Gordon
The Family Courts will only deal with an inheritance once it is received by the beneficiary. If it has not been received it can only be taken into account in certain circumstances.
If an inheritance has been received, it will be included as part of the assets to be divided by the Court. The Court will assess amongst other matters, the financial and non-financial contributions made by a husband and wife to their assets as well as the financial circumstances of both parties. A spouse does not have to show contribution to a particular asset, but to the marriage as a whole.
It does not matter whether you are separated or divorced however, any application to a Court for a property settlement must be made within 12 months of your divorce becoming final.
It is recommended that you get legal advice. A lawyer will obtain a financial history from you and give you advice as to your entitlements and whether you should take any action now or later.