Inherited assets
Inherited assets

The following Family practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Inherited assets
  • Existing inheritances
  • General principles
  • Case law examples
  • Inheritance prospects
  • Practical considerations

The court is not specifically referred to the question of inherited assets or the parties’ inheritance prospects by section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973) or Schedule 5, Part 5 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA 2004), however it will consider any inherited assets when making a final order under the headings of the parties’ financial resources, their contributions to the welfare of the family, and ‘all the circumstances of the case’.

See also Practice Notes: The assets of the parties, Non-matrimonial or non-civil partnership assets and Contributions of the parties.

In White v White, Lord Nicholls developed the concept of matrimonial as opposed to non-matrimonial property, but adding that ‘in the ordinary course, this factor [ inherited assets] can be expected to carry little weight, if any, in a case where the claimant's financial needs cannot be met without recourse to this property’. Thus in practice, whether or not an asset is non-matrimonial is only likely to be of significance where the remaining assets are sufficient to meet the needs of the parties, ie where they are substantial. See also Practice Note: Special considerations in big-money cases.

Existing inheritances

Where assets were inherited before or during the marriage/civil partnership, a party may seek to argue that such assets should be ring-fenced. In White v White, Lord Nicholls developed the concept of matrimonial as

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