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Role of Inheritance in a Divorce in NJ

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Jan 11, 2022

Role of Inheritance in a Divorce in NJ

Role of Inheritance in a Divorce in NJ

According to the Survey of Consumer Finances, the median inheritance in the U.S. is $69,000.

Inheritances are often significant financial assets, making them highly disputed property in a divorce case. Depending on how you have managed your inheritance, it may remain under your name or be distributed partially to your spouse.

If you are getting divorced, you may already be wondering, “Is my spouse entitled to my inheritance in N.J.?” Fortunately, New Jersey law has a straightforward way of addressing this issue.

Keep reading to learn how a court will handle inheritance in a divorce case.

Inheritance in a Divorce

New Jersey law uses equitable distribution to decide how to divide assets in a divorce. This means that assets are not necessarily split 50-50, but rather that the judge will take into account each spouse’s circumstances and what each person brought into the marriage.

This involves making a distinction between marital property and separate property. Separate property includes assets that you acquired before the marriage. Inheritances from relatives and gifts you received from third parties are also considered individual property and thus not subject to equitable distribution.

Whether you received an inheritance by being named in someone’s will or through intestate succession, it is initially considered separate property. However, exceptions may depend on what you did with the inheritance after receiving it.

Can Your Spouse Take Your Inheritance in a Divorce?

There are several situations in which your spouse may be entitled to part of your inheritance:


  • The inheritance was given in the name of both you and your spouse.
  • You have given part of it to them as a gift.
  • You have placed the money in a joint bank account.
  • You have used the money to buy a home or other shared marital property for your family.


If your spouse claims you have given them a certain amount as a gift, but you declare that you did not, the court must use evidence to decide who is telling the truth. There needs to be evidence, usually in the form of financial records, that you gave your spouse part of your inheritance as a gift for their claim to succeed in court.

If you deposited the money into a joint bank account and kept it there long-term, the judge may decide that it is a joint marital asset. This would entitle your spouse to part of the inheritance.

You might have put the money into a joint account for a few days while setting up a separate account in your name to transfer it to. If that is the case, you will need to demonstrate that in your argument to prove that you did not intend to treat the money as a marital asset.

Protecting Your Inheritance

If you don’t want your spouse to get any of your inheritance, it’s vital to never commingle your money with theirs. Instead, your estate must be kept in a separate account under your name to clarify that it is not a shared property.

If you buy something with the money (such as a car) and keep the title in your name only, that is also considered your separate property.

Another way to keep your inheritance separate is to write it in a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement that you and your spouse signed before you got married can ensure no confusion about who owns the inheritance.

Divorce Attorney Near Me

Surviving divorce can be stressful and overwhelming without support. You probably have many questions in addition to what happens with inheritance in a divorce. The best divorce lawyer can help answer these questions.

Get in touch with our family law firm at Dalena & Bosch, so our attorneys can support and advise you in the best way during your divorce process.

Elizabeth Dalena helped me through a very difficult divorce and I felt working with her was like working with a friend you can trust! Beth, thank you for your professionalism and helping me through this difficult time.
Michael Mastrogiacomo - March 2020
If you’ve been searching for an honest and empathetic attorney...someone you can trust while you navigate the difficult and emotional world of family law, then do yourself a favor and contact Beth Dalena & Jessica Bosch. You’ll be so glad you did.
Par 5 Consulting - March 2020
When you are in the painful and often frightening process of divorce, the women of this law firm bring you confidence and security with their knowledge and professionalism. They exhibit that rare combination of the willingness to hold your hand like a compassionate friend and defend you like a piranha in the courtroom when necessary. They exhibit dedication, and the grace and wisdom of their long term experience. They look…
Cindy Morhouse - February 2020
These ladies have helped me several times in my experience with them. Jessica was my divorce attorney and I can say without hesitation, she was professionally and personally a gift to me. She handled my case (adversarial at best) with grace and knowledge. A fighter when necessary. She handled me in my personal state as a friend. Compassionate and kind. Beth assisted me with rewriting my deed after my divorce…
Scarlett O - January 2020
I chose Jessica A. Bosch to represent me because she was compassionate and knowledgeable. My divorce was a long and difficult journey. During this time, I lost sight of what was really important. Jessica kept me grounded and focused on what would be best for me after the divorce. I am grateful for her help in protecting two very important financial things that I might have given up. I didn't…
Cynthia R - December 2019