New York is not a common law property state, it is an equitable distribution state. Assets acquired by a spouse during a marriage through an inheritance is considered, by law, their separate property. Inherited assets will remain their separate property, and will not be distributable by a Court in a divorce proceeding. The exception is if they are converted in some manner, during the marriage, into a marital asset.
One way this could happen is by depositing inherited monies into a joint account, or by commingling marital money (wages earned by either spouse during their marriage, for example) with the inherited monies. In the absence of commingling or transmutation of the inherited funds, they will remain the separate property of the spouse who inherited them.
Mr. Rosen practices matrimonial and family law in Great Neck, NY. His response here is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter in question. Many times the questioner may leave out details which would make the reply unsuitable. You are strongly advised to confer with an attorney in your own state to acquire more information suited to your particular circumstances.
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