Using a trust can help you protect and preserve your family wealth from non-tax-related threats, such as divorce, loss of government benefits, wasteful spending and lawsuits.
It is worth considering, especially, if you answer yes to any of the following questions.
- Do you have a married child who might become divorced later in life?
Recent statistics demonstrate that nearly 50 percent of newly married couples will divorce later in life. The risk of exposure of your assets to loss in equitable distribution upon divorce is high.
Leaving assets to them in trust, instead of outright, can protect these assets from claims of alimony and division in a divorce.
- Do you have a child or grandchild with "special needs" or wish to preserve other government benefits for a loved one?
If one of your loved ones is receiving government benefits, or could, then leaving assets to them in trust, instead of outright, can help preserve these benefits for your loved one.
- Do you have a child or loved one who has demonstrated an inability to manage assets?
You might have a child who is bad with money or who is not responsible enough to handle the responsibility of prudent stewardship. Perhaps they are in serious debt or have a gambling problem.
Leaving assets to them in trust, instead of outright, can protect these assets from irresponsible behavior and loss if they are sued.
- Do you have a successful child who is in a "high risk" profession?
Perhaps you have a child who is a surgeon. The medical profession brings with it a significant exposure to liability from lawsuits. Another profession that can create legal exposure is engineers and architects.
Leaving assets "in trust" to such a child, instead of outright, can protect these assets from future lawsuits.
While there are many tax-related benefits that can be achieved with trusts, a carefully tailored trust can accomplish many non-tax objectives that will serve to protect and preserve your wealth. These matters should be considered in every case.
Mark F. Winn, J.D., Master of Laws (LL.M.) in estate planning, is a local asset protection, estate planning and elder law attorney. www.mwinnesq.com