When couples get divorced they are required to identify marital property and non-marital property. Many individuals don’t know what makes property marital and therefore, how they may unintentionally make a non-marital asset marital. This week’s #FamilyFriday article defines marital and non-marital property and offers a few tips to protect your non-marital property.
Maryland defines marital property as any property – no matter how titled – acquired by 1 or both parties during the marriage. Individuals mistakenly believe that if the property, personal or real estate, is in their sole name it means that it is not marital – not true. By virtue of being married, what’s theirs is yours and what’s yours is theirs.
As logic flows, non-marital property is any property which was acquired prior to marriage. There are also some ways to acquire non-marital property during your marriage. These include an inheritance, a gift from a third person, an agreement between you and your spouse stating what is or is not marital, or any monies which were received through any of the above means. For example, if your parent passes and leaves you $10,000.00. You can put that $10,000.00 into a bank account in your sole name and still have that remain non-marital property.
How does non-marital property then become marital property? When you comingle the property. Take the example of receiving a $10,000 inheritance described above. Say you decide to transfer your inheritance into the joint account. Many would think that $10,000 of the balance of their joint account would remain non-marital since it was clearly from their inheritance. Wrong. The moment those monies were comingled, all of that money became marital property.
So, what do you do? One of two things: (1) keep non-marital property separate or (2) enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and define what each of you will maintain as non-marital property. You and your spouse can enter an agreement and list what property will be marital and what will not. That may include real estate, jewelry, bank accounts, etc. Or, you can keep it simple and keep your non-marital money separate.
Call ERA Law Group, LLC today at (410) 919-1790 to learn how to protect your non-marital property!