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How does divorce impact inheritance?

When a couple is married, it is taken for granted that in the event of the divorce, assets will be divided. However, in the process of filing for a divorce, the question of what happens to an inheritance fund becomes more murky.

Inheritances in general are considered as separate property. Therefore, when you create a will and state the beneficiary as a certain person, in general their spouse or divorcing spouse will never have a right to the inheritance assets.

However, it is very common for the commingling of inheritance to occur. This is a situation when a person inherits assets from a will, and uses these assets to fund marital expenses by a deposit into a joint bank account. Through this action, the inheritance is no longer immune from joint ownership, and is now the possession of both spouses. It is likely that after this has been done, the assets will be considered marital property in the event of a divorce.

Will inheritance acquired before a marriage be considered separate property?

In the state of Massachusetts, community property is not recognized. This means that property that was acquired and owned before the marriage took place will remain the property of the person after divorce, unless commingling has occurred. This is why it is important that each spouse ensures that he or she keeps his or her separate property separate.

If you are creating a will in the state of Massachusetts, it is likely that you have concerns that your assets may end up in the wrong hands, especially through the process of divorce. It is important, therefore, to conduct thorough research to understand what the law says about this.

Source: FindLaw, "Inheritance and Divorce," accessed May 11, 2018

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