Am I entitled to half of what my husband inherited?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother-in-law has just passed away. She willed her assests to my husband. We live in the State of Texas. My question is "Will I entitle of 50% of what my husband inheritance?" Thanks for the answers in advance. Doris

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Texas law classifies property owned by married couples as either "community property" or "separate property."

Community property is all the property that either spouse acquires during the marriage, except separate property. Separate property is anything owned before the marriage, anything inherited by one spouse, anything received as a gift by one spouse and certain portion of a personal injury recovered by one spouse.

So the property your husband gets from his mother is legally his separate property during your marriage and during his lifetime, although he would be free to share it with you if that is his heart's desire.

Should the two of you divorce, the property your husband inherits is his alone"ā€¯although sometimes divorcing spouses are able to prove that some or all of inherited property was transformed into community property. For example, inherited money deposited in a joint bank account and used for joint living expenses could be argued to be transformed into community property. Or if your husband inherited a house but fixed it up with your joint funds, you might be entitled to a reimbursement or to a share in the property that was enhanced should the two of you divorce.

Finally, your husband remains free to leave you any inherited property in a will or trust, which would entitle you to take it at his death.