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What Happens to Inheritance in a Maryland Divorce?

Family Law Attorney Ron Ogens Featured in Super Lawyers Article

By Andrew Brandt

According to Julie Landau, a family attorney in Stevenson, discussions about inheritance come up often when clients are seeking a divorce. “When people come in and they’re talking about the prospect of divorce,” she says, “one of the things we’re going to go over in the initial conversation will be, ‘What assets do you have and how did you acquire them?’”

In Maryland, marital property is all property acquired during a marriage, by either party, no matter whose name it’s titled under. But what about an inheritance?
“An inheritance is not in and of itself marital property,” says Ronald Ogens, a family attorney in Bethesda. “Let’s say a person’s uncle leaves them money, either directly by their will or by a trust. They certainly would say to themselves, ‘I didn’t work all my life to give this money to my nephew’s wife.’”
Other caveats to the statute, Ogens notes, are property acquired as a gift from a third party, excluded by a valid agreement, or directly traceable thereto. Meaning, for example, if you inherit $100,000 and put it directly toward a bond for $100,000, that can be directly traced to the inheritance and is treated as non-martial property.
Though inherently it may not be marital property, an inheritance can become so. Ogens explains a situation in which you take inherited money, and put part of it in a joint back account with your spouse. “Under the corn theory—where all corn looks alike—once you put it into an account that has other marital funds in it, you’ve comingled it,” he says. “You can’t tell which is a non-marital dollar and which is a marital dollar. Therefore, it becomes marital.”

If you have questions about inheritance during divorce or are in need of a Family Law attorney, please contact Ron Ogens: |  240-507-1701


Mr. Ogens serves as the Chairman of the Family Law Practice Group. Mr. Ogens’ practice as family law attorney is focused on the negotiation, settlement, and litigation of family law matters in Maryland and the District of Columbia. He handles a variety of divorce matters, including separation and divorce, annulment, alimony and child support issues and analysis, child custody and visitation issues, and the identification, valuation, classification, and division of marital and non-marital property. He also provides preparation and analysis of separation and property settlement agreements and prenuptial agreements. His experience as a family law attorney helps him serve as an effective mediator and arbitrator in family law disputes.


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