Ex spouses and inheritance
Many people are not aware that the spouse from which they are separated or even divorced, may be legally entitled to their share of inheritance when their mother in law or father in law dies – unless they remarry before their parent’s death.
Should an ex decide to make a claim against an estate, the decision to grant them any assets is usually placed in the hands of a judge, who will seek to achieve a reasonable agreement.
This difficult decision as to who should receive what from an inheritance is based principally on equality, dependent on the value of assets currently held by each party before the inheritance is shared out.
The individual needs of each party must also be taken into consideration, with questions asked including who has the larger family and/or young children to take care of? If a maintenance order is in place, would a larger percentage of the proceeds of the estate rule out the need for any further maintenance payments?
Once a claim gets to the stage of legal proceedings, there is little that either party can do to control what happens to the deceased’s assets. It is therefore wise to take legal advice as soon as the separation takes place, to protect assets as much as possible.