No couple enters a marriage expecting it to end in divorce. But splits can still occur despite everyone’s best efforts. Maryland individuals may be concerned about what can happen to separate assets in case of divorce and how to protect their property from being split.
What is considered a marital asset?
In property division, any asset that either party acquires after their marriage date and before their separation date is considered marital property. There are some exceptions to this, such as certain gifts and inheritances. If an asset is considered marital property, it will be considered during property division. Therefore, the best way to safeguard personal assets is to be prepared to prove that they meet the legal definition of being separate under the law.
Protecting assets acquired prior to the marriage
If an asset was acquired prior to the marriage (for example, a real estate investment or business that was established before saying “I do”), it is incumbent upon the owner to have evidence of the value of the property as of the marriage date. This is because the appreciation of the asset during the marriage is likely considered marital property. Proving value at marriage can be difficult if the marriage was several years ago, so it is best to document these values at the time of marriage. If that was not done in advance, old documents and appraisers may be able to help.
Protecting assets acquired during the marriage
Documentation is key to protecting assets during a marriage. Not only should all assets be put in the sole name of the owner, but any documentation proving that the item is an exception to shared property rules — like a gift or inheritance– will be key in making a case.
Overall, having information in writing with clear valuations and proof that it is not part of shared property is necessary to protect that property in a divorce. This is true for property acquired before the marriage, as well as gifts received after the marriage. An experienced Maryland estate planning attorney can help to clarify what might be necessary for one’s particular case.