If you inherit valuable property during your marriage, the entire family will potentially benefit from that windfall. You may use those funds to invest in your home or improve everyone’s standard of living.
Unfortunately, receiving a significant inheritance could also create a serious strain on your marriage or create complications in a future divorce. If your family member left assets to both of you, clearly your spouse would have a claim. However, if the inheritance was solely in your name, does your spouse have any legal grounds to claim those assets in your divorce?
Your inheritance starts out as separate property
Maryland law is clear about what assets the courts will treat as marital property for the purpose of equitable distribution. Jointly-owned assets and those acquired during the marriage are usually subject to division. Property that you owned before you got married and inherited assets are generally considered separate property, at least at first.
Many people commingle separate property with marital assets. If you deposit all of your inheritance into a bank account that you share with your spouse, for example, then it may become marital property.
Providing your spouse with access to your inherited bank account, adding them to the title of an inherited home or otherwise giving them control over your inherited assets may give them claim to the property. You must maintain your assets as fully separate from your spouse if you hope to protect your inheritance when you divorce.
What can you expect from a high-asset divorce?
The more property and assets you share with your spouse, the more unpredictable the outcome may be. Judges must create property division arrangements that they believe are fair given the family’s situation.
Unless you have a prenuptial agreement or reach your own property division settlement, it can be difficult to predict what will happen with particular assets in a Maryland divorce. Learning more about property division rules will help you better manage a complex divorce.