D.Z. (Wife) and J.Z. (Husband) married in 2001. At the time of their marriage, Wife and Husband each had separate retirement accounts. They also each received separate inheritances during their marriage.

Wife filed for divorce in 2016, and the district court entered orders dissolving Wife and Husband’s marriage in 2018.

When it came time to identify the parties’ property as either separate or marital and equitably divide and distribute the marital property, Wife claimed that her and Husband’s separate retirement accounts and inheritances–including the increase in value of those assets during their marriage–were their separate property not subject to equitable division and distribution in their divorce because of an oral agreement she and Husband had made.

In support of her claim, Wife relied on a 2007 amendment to a revocable living trust Wife and Husband had created as part of their estate plan, which “explicitly removed the retirement accounts from the trust” as a result of their oral agreement. Furthermore, according to Wife, her and Husband’s separate inheritances were not mentioned in the amendment because the inheritances were never included in the trust.
Continue Reading The Case of the Unenforceable Oral Marital Agreement