Akron, OH asked in Divorce, Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Maryland

Q: In maryland can my brothers wife ( pending divorce). Take the home of his deceased parents?

My aunt and uncle raised me. And have one biological son. My uncle died 2003 my aunt 2016. I was never legally adopted. My cousin( their son). Wants to sign their property over to me. Him and his wife are getting a divorce. She has threatened to take half of his deceased parents home. They do have one son together. My cousin and I haven't changed names on deed from my aunt and uncle. They died without a will. Would his wife. Soon to be ex. Legally take the property in maryland?

2 Lawyer Answers
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: No. Property which one spouse inherits alone is not marital property subject to division with the non-inheriting spouse. The only scenarios where your cousin’s spouse could make a claim are (1) if your cousin were to add his wife to the title; or (2) if your cousin were to make mortgage payments on the house using money earned during the marriage, or expend other marital funds improving the property value (new kitchen, an addition, etc.). In the latter scenario, a judge would not grant his wife a legally titled interest in the home, but would equitably award the wife other marital assets to equalize the parties as part of the overall marital property division. So, your soon-to-be ex-sister-in-law has no realistic way to prevent retitling of the deed into your name or to make claims against the property.

Nina Whitehurst agrees with this answer

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Thomas C. Valkenet
Thomas C. Valkenet
Answered
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: You and your cousin do not presently own the property. It is property of the estate for the second of your Aunt or Uncle. If you name, and the name of your cousin was not already on the deed, only a Personal Representative of the estate can pass title of the house. And if your cousin was never on title to the house, it is even more unlikely that anyone else could claim an interest through him. The only one clearly out in the cold, though, is you.

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