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Is daughter-in-law entitled to half of husbands inheritance if she sues for divorce after he inherits his mother's estate?

Troy, MI |

My son's marriage is headed for divorce. My estate is not enviable, but there is some money and a life insurance policy involved. I am 68yrs and must consider what will happen after my death. I need to know if my daughter-in-law can claim half of my son's inheritance in a divorce settlement and what I must do to try to avoid this. Thank you

Attorney Answers 4

  1. First of all, timing is important, here. If you pass away, your son inherits your money and deposits it into joint marital accounts, then there is a good chance that your DIL can claim this. If you are alive and your son has not inherited the money, then she has no claim. If you are deceased but your son has not claimed his inheritance, then your DIL is quite likely out of luck.

    There are a number of ways of protecting your son from a divorcing spouse. One good method is by setting up a trust. The trustee would have the discretion to either pay money out or to hold it in trust until any divorce proceedings are concluded. Your DIL cannot claim anything that your son does not have access to.

    Whatever you set up should be done by a lawyer. Your lawyer can deal not only with this issue, but anything else that needs to be taken care of to protect you and/or your son.

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.

  2. It depends what happens first and how your son treats the inheritance. If he gets divorced first, then she would have no rights to any future inheritance. If you were to die first, your son needs to make sure that he keeps any inheritance in a separate account with just his name and doesnt combine it with marital assets. Again your daughter in law wouldnt be able to get the funds. Depending on the size of your estate, you may want to do things to avoid probate including setting up a Trust and not distributing funds outright to your son to again protect the funds from your daughter in law. If I can help or answer any other questions, please contact me. Ken

  3. As the other attorneys have indicated, timing matters. If you are still alive when they divorce, then the soon-to-be-ex will not be able to get any of your estate. Even if that is not the case, a well-crafted estate plan can help ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, including protecting them from claims made by your DIL.

    For a consultation, e-mail to set up an appointment. This answer is provided based on limited facts and does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor should it be relied on as legal advice. It is only a generalized, cursory examination and is not a substitute for retaining a licensed attorney.

  4. The first question asked in a divorce is whether something is a marital asset. Money not yet received, or money that has always been kept in a separate account will generally not be a marital asset. You should talk to a lawyer who has experience with estate planning in a setting where a potential heir is facing the possibility of divorce. The lawyer can suggest ways, such as a trust, that can keep the assets out of the marital estate. Call me at 810-664-1388 if you would like to discuss this further.

    I am licensed to practice law in Michigan and Virginia and regularly handle cases of this sort. You should not rely on this answer. You should consult a lawyer so you can tell the lawyer the entire situation and get legal advice that is precisely tailored to your case.

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