Does my husband have any rights to my inheritance?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I am married. My father is deceased. My mother is an Alzheimer's patient who will likely pass away in the next year or so. She has a large estate that has been designated to my brother and I and a cousin. My question is whether or not my husband is entitled to any of the assets from my inheritance or if he has any say in how it is used. He has all these ideas of how the money should be spent, but I feel like it's not up to him.

Expert Answers

Judy and Fred co-mediate family property and financial conflicts, and each work individually as mediators as well. Judy Barber, a mediator and family business consultant, assists clients in resolving overlapping family and money conflicts so they are better able to make sound estate planning decisions. Frederick Hertz is an attorney and mediator who specializes in resolving co-ownership matters involving families, siblings, spouses, cohabitants and domestic partners.

This answer totally depends on the marital law rules of your particular state, and what (if any) agreements you and your husband have. And, it also depends on the "state" of your marriage emotionally. In most states you have the right to keep your inherited assets separate, and make all decisions about them privately. You may not even have a duty to tell your husband about the inheritance and your use of the funds. In some instances, however, those assets may be appropriately tapped to cover certain basic expenses of your living and housing obligations. If you end up breaking up, different marital rules will come into play, and in some instances inherited assets will be shared - whereas in other states they will be all yours.

If you need to know the legal rules more precisely, you should be meeting with a local family law attorney who can tell you about the specific rules of your state. On the inter-personal level, you probably should have some honest conversations with your husband, perhaps with the help of a marriage counselor, so you can work out what is yours and what is "ours" in your marriage. There are no fixed rules here, however!