5.6 Other Spousal Property
By statute, certain joint accounts held by husband and wife are exempt from garnishment. Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-603(a) provides:
“Spousal property. – (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, a garnishment against property held jointly by husband and wife, in a bank, trust company, credit union, savings bank, or savings and loan association or any of their affiliates or subsidiaries is not valid unless both owners of the property are judgment debtors.
(2) Paragraph (1) of this subsection does not apply unless the property is held in an account that was established as a joint account prior to the date of entry of judgment giving rise to the garnishment.”
This is not a blanket protection of all joint accounts. A jointly held brokerage account, for example, is not covered by the statute. Under the common law, of course, such accounts could be held as tenants by the entirety. To achieve such a result, a brokerage account should probably be formally titled by the entireties and be subject to the order of both.
Subpart (b) of Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 11-603 affords protection to property held in trust form in the same enumerated financial institutions. Such an account was held free from garnishment even if created after the date of entry of a judgment against one spouse when funded exclusively from the sale of tenants by the entirety property. Maryland Nat’l Bank v. Pearce, 329 Md. 602, 620 A.2d 941 (1993).
Fam. Law § 4-301 holds that pre-marital obligations of one spouse do not become the responsibility of the other spouse. Also, spouses are not generally responsible for each other’s tort or contract liability.