Inheritance and Family Law Property Settlement
When separating, parties often look at how to divide property between themselves. This considers all the parties’ assets and liabilities, including inheritance. Clients who come to Joss Legal often ask if their inheritance will be regarded as part of the asset pool and, if so, how it will be divided between the parties.
In property settlements, the asset pool needs to be defined, including the value of the assets in question. The Court will then consider whether it is ‘just and equitable’ to make a property settlement. Factors influencing the decision include the length of the relationship, how the finances were kept in the relationship, the time since the relationship has broken down and the size of the asset pool.
The next step is for the Court to look at the contributions made by each person. These can be financial, non-financial and homemaker contributions. An inheritance is a financial contribution. The Court will also look at when the inheritance was received: the start, during or after the relationship.
The timing is important to property settlement as it changes the weight of the contribution. If the inheritance was contributed towards the beginning of a longer relationship, the Court might deem that it does not hold as much weight as an inheritance that was contributed during the relationship.
If inheritance is contributed after the relationship has ended, parties must disclose this to ensure that the settlement is ‘just and equitable’.
Inheritance is not a protected asset and is considered a marital asset, so it is included in the asset pool in most circumstances. Many factors influence how the Court will treat the inheritance, such as if the inheritance was added to joint accounts or kept separate, the size of the inheritance and the asset pool as a whole, and how the inheritance was used.
If you, a family member or a friend have separated and need assistance with how your inheritance affects your property settlement, we encourage you to seek legal advice from one of our friendly and knowledgeable lawyers here at Joss Legal.
If you would like to book an initial consultation, we can be contacted at (08) 6559 7480 or at email@example.com.