Statistically, one out of every four dollars you leave "free of trust" to a married child will be lost in a divorce.
Statistics continue to indicate that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. When people become divorced, they typically lose half their assets. Thus, one out of every four dollars you leave free of trust to a married child will be lost in divorce.
Can you protect against this? Yes, you can. How? Leave those assets "in trust."
If you leave assets in trust for your loved ones, you can assure the assets will be protected from lawsuits, predatory spouses in a divorce, creditors and estate taxes.
If you leave assets free of trust to loved ones, they will have full ownership, but the assets will be exposed to lawsuits, predatory spouses in a divorce, your loved ones' creditors, and the estate tax in loved ones' estates.
Can your child be the trustee of his or her own trust and still get the asset protection? Yes, so long as the trust is carefully crafted with proper language.
Leaving assets in trust for a child, with the child serving as the trustee, is kind of like leaving money to your child in a lock box and that child is the only one who holds the key to the box.
Furthermore, if the trust is drawn properly, then no court will have the authority to compel them to open the box and pay the money in it to their creditors or their spouse in a divorce. You can then control the flow of funds to make sure it stays in the family bloodline.
So, when a son or daughter passes, their funds go to your grandchildren.
A good estate plan will leave assets in trust" so as to protect the property from threats. Special instructions need to be in a trust in order to assure maximum income tax deferral on retirement assets.
Twenty-five percent is a lot to lose to an in-law in a divorce when some advance planning can guarantee no loss.
The moral of the story is, you should plan ahead to protect your property.
Mark F. Winn, J.D., Master of Laws (LL.M.) in estate planning, is a local asset protection, estate and elder law planning attorney. mwinnesq.com