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What Happens to an Inheritance in a Divorce?

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In a Maryland divorce, all marital assets are subject to division. When you think of dividing assets, you may think of the marital home, cars, heirlooms, collectibles, furniture, artwork and, of course, money and financial accounts. But what if you inherited a large sum of money during your marriage? Would you have to split it with your ex-spouse?

Generally speaking, inheritances are considered separate property in a divorce. This means that if you inherited $100,000 when your mother died, then that money would be yours and yours only. Likewise, if your spouse received a large sum of money when a family member passed away, you would not be entitled to it. Your spouse would be the sole owner of that inheritance.

But of course, there are exceptions to every rule. There are situations where inheritances may be split in a divorce, based on how the money was used during the marriage.

Is It Separate or Marital Property?

There are situations where inheritances can turn into marital property. This primarily occurs when the money is commingled. If the beneficiary receives the money and places it in a separate bank account in their name only, then the inheritance is theirs only. The spouse would have no claim to it in a divorce.

However, once the money is used for marital purposes, it becomes commingled. For example, if the inheritance is placed in a joint bank account or used to pay the mortgage or buy the spouse a car, then it becomes marital property. It would then be subject to split in a divorce. However, Maryland is not a community property state. As an equitable distribution state, the money would be divided fairly, but not necessarily 50/50.

There are also situations in which an inheritance can be given to both a family member and their spouse, For example, if your mother died, and she was very close to both you and your spouse, then she may ask you to split an inheritance. If this is the case, then you would need to split the inheritance in a divorce.

Protecting Your Inheritance

To protect your money, keep it in your name only. Do not put it in a joint bank account.

Do not use the money to buy things for your spouse or pay bills. The best option is to create a trust with your children’s names on it. If you have any documentation showing that the inheritance was intended solely for you, then be sure to keep that as proof. You may need it one day in a divorce case. 

Contact a Maryland Divorce Lawyer Today

Splitting assets in a divorce can be complicated. Everyone wants to keep as much as possible, which means conflicts over inheritances can occur.

Understand your legal rights with help from The Columbia divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. He can determine if your inheritance is at risk. Schedule a free consultation today. Call (410) 774-5987 or fill out the online form. We have two offices to serve you.

Resource:

forbes.com/sites/jefflanders/2014/08/19/divorcing-women-heres-how-to-protect-your-inheritances-and-gifts/#752c051469f8

https://www.marylandlawhelp.com/when-to-seek-marriage-counseling/

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