/The Moneyist: I’ve been married 7 years and have 8 kids from a previous marriage — will I be entitled to my mother-in-law’s home when she dies?

The Moneyist: I’ve been married 7 years and have 8 kids from a previous marriage — will I be entitled to my mother-in-law’s home when she dies?

Dear Moneyist,

I have been married to my husband for seven years and we have one child together. I also have eight children from a previous marriage, and he has one child from a previous marriage. His dad died several years ago and his mom’s health currently not doing too well. I have a question about inheritance. My mother-in-law does not like me, so I can’t talk to her about this.

Also see: As a baby boomer, I didn’t grow up with this culture of entitlement — do I have to leave my estate to my children or spouse?

My question: Does my husband automatically inherit her home when she dies? He is her only living child. She has lived in that house before my husband was born, and I’m not sure if she still has a mortgage. Will I be entitled to my mother-in-law’s home if my husband inherits it and he pre-deceases me or even if we go through a divorce?

Seven Years Married

Dear Married,

Better to ask me than your husband or, heaven forbid, his mother.

You may not like your mother-in-law, but you appear to have higher regard for her home. If you are planning to divorce your husband, you can kiss goodbye to him and your mother-in-law’s home. Maryland is an equitable-distribution state and not a community-property state. A divorce court is under no obligation to divide property 50/50. (In a community-property state, any assets acquired during the marriage are deemed marital property and divided 50/50.)

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In Maryland, when a spouse dies when there are minor children involved, the remaining spouse inherits 50% of intestate property — that is, property that is not covered by a last will and testament. In such cases, each state follows its own laws governing such situations. The minor descendant — in this case, the child you had together — then inherits everything else. Your children from a previous relationship are not considered descendants of your husband.

However, there is another wrinkle to your husband’s expected inheritance. Even in a community-property state, gifts and inheritance are not regarded as marital property and, therefore, not divided equally in a divorce. The same applies to Maryland’s equitable-distribution laws: Your husband would keep his mother’s home, assuming he pre-deceases you. On the upside, your only child would likely inherit your mother-in-law’s home after her father dies.

In the meantime, I do hope your mother-in-law makes a full recovery.

Also see: ‘He’s a hoarder, not like on TV, but close!’ My sisters took valuables from my ailing father’s home as payment for cleaning

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

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