You and your spouse are going to get divorced. You don’t have much, so the property division process seems simple. You’ll sell the house, split up what you earn and easily divide your other assets.
However, you know that your spouse is going to be wealthy. His or her parents have already talked with both of you — not knowing about the impending divorce — about their will. They are going to leave $1 million to their child, and you were looking forward to that windfall.
Does that matter during the divorce? You were part of the talks. They knew you’d be able to use the money if the marriage lasted. Does that mean you have a claim and that the inheritance is a marital asset?
It does not. The most obvious reason is that it’s not an asset you or your spouse control. You can’t divide what you don’t have.
Plus, it’s not a guaranteed asset. Courts have faced this question and determined that the will could change, so no one can claim an asset that hasn’t been given.
What if your spouse’s parents decide to leave the money to charity, instead? What if they give it to your spouse’s siblings? What if they just decide to spend it all in the last few years of their life? Since they can do all of that, they are the only ones who can claim that asset, even if you know they’re realistically going to leave it to your spouse just like they said.
Property division can get complicated. Be sure you know exactly what the law states and what legal precedents define the case.
Source: Love to Know, “Divorce Law and Inherited Money,” Jodee Redmond, accessed Dec. 28, 2017