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Dividing the Spoils of War

With nearly half of the marriages in America ending in divorce, creating a barrier between your soon to be ex and your assets is a smart precaution to take. However, most Florida individuals believe that a prenup is the only way to protect assets during a division of marital property. Actually, there are many alternatives to protect your assets, most of which do not even have to be revealed to a spouse in a legal agreement at all.

Many states allow individuals to set up trusts for their sole benefit. When correctly administered, this option completely negates the need to reveal assets in trust to a spouse. The state of Delaware is well known for offering this type of option as well as statutory trusts that serve as viable alternatives to a business shield. In many cases, they are actually stronger.

However, without the right legal representation, the discretion of the court may overrule any careful preparation that an asset owner takes to protect his or her valued property. For instance, courts in some states have discretion in defining a trust as a safety net rather than a principal source of income, making it open season to an irate spouse.

In order to fully protect your valued assets before, during and after marriage, having the right legal representation is essential. State law varies from place to place; you need someone who understands the law as it applies to your jurisdiction in complex property division. Be sure to consult a reputable attorney before "jumping the broom," as they say, or that may be all that you are left with once the dust finally settles.

Source: Barron's, "Divorce Trusts", Tatiana Serafin, May 18, 2013