Question: Will my spouse receive a portion of my inheritance in Equitable Distribution?
Answer: As always, it depends! In New York, only Marital Property is divided by a Court in Equitable Distribution between two divorcing spouses. Generally, an inheritance is NOT considered Martial Property, and is thus Separate Property that is not subject to Equitable Distribution (i.e., it is retained by the spouse who inherited said property). However, if, during the marriage (prior to commencement of the divorce action) the spouse who inherited said property co- mingles their inherited property with Marital Property (a simplified example would be if inheritance monies are deposited into a joint checking account and used for marital purposes).
Accordingly, it would behoove the party who receives an inheritance during the marriage to keep any inherited property in a separate account with only his/her name on it and maintain diligent records during the marriage concerning the account(s). This will help to fend off claims of co-mingling that may otherwise give the Court reason to deem the asset marital property subject to Equitable Distribution