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Visit us at www.DivorceAndYourMoney.com Divorce and Your Money is your guide to avoiding costly mistakes during divorce. Shawn Leamon, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst and MBA, wants to help you learn the fundamentals of how to get a divorce. Whether you are looking for an uncontested divorce, a do it yourself divorce, or an online divorce, resources are available to offer guidance. Through his divorce podcast and divorce blog, Shawn offers his professional opinion on the best ways to handle the end of your marriage. He covers topics including how to file for divorce, divorcing a narcissist, and finding the best divorce attorney. Even tricky subjects such as a “what is a QDRO?” and “is alimony taxable?” are tackled through these venues. If you need to know what the first steps are or what you should do to head to trial during litigation, you can find resources to give you a step-by-step guide to what comes next. Think of his advice as an alternative to divorce support groups where you can find exactly what you need when you need it. He offers one-on-one divorce coaching to give you a solid grasp on the decisions that are bound to affect your financial future. Before you have a divorce decree in hand, you will likely go through some type of divorce mediation. For any spouse saying, “I want a divorce,” you need to make sure that you are getting the financial future you are entitled to. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by the emotional, legal, and financial burden that divorce can become. Instead, take control of your situation with sage wisdom to help all individuals make better financial decisions for their independent future. If you find yourself asking “where are the best divorce lawyers near me?”, Shawn can help you to recognize the best of the best. Whether you need a divorce in Texas, a divorce in Florida, or a divorce in New York, you will have all the knowledge you need to find the best team of professionals to assist you. You can start from a place of being legally separated or once you have already started to file for divorce using free divorce papers or an attorney. No matter where you or your marriage may be in the process, Shawn Leamon has professional advice to offer your unique situation. A simple no fault divorce or a high-stakes power struggle are all areas he has vast experience with during his work outside of Divorce and Your Money. Let his advice be a guide to help you get all that you need for a secure financial future in your divorce records. It will not make a difference whether you are getting a divorce in Ohio or a divorce in California if you are following the basic principles set out through Divorce and Your Money’s divorce blog, divorce podcast, and divorce coaching.
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Mar 2, 2017

This was originally published on Divorce and Your Money here

When it comes to a property settlement, having a trust fund can make for a sticky financial situation. Divorce forces spouses to consider every asset that can be counted as part of their union. 

A trust fund (also just called a trust) is a legal entity that holds property for another person or group of people. The property is financial in nature, consisting of any combination of cash, stocks, bonds, property, or other products that hold value to the beneficiary. The contents of the trust are placed by the grantor with a trustee (a person or legal entity charged with the responsibility of responsibly managing the account).

In many cases, a trust fund is designed to release the finances when a specific event happens, such as a death. Other possible scenarios include trust funds created for one specific purpose, such as paying for college or buying a home.

Why Do Trusts Exist?

In the end, trusts really exist to make sure that funds are responsibly, appropriately managed at the proper time. Many people set up a trust fund to keep money safe, and they set it aside until a specific time, like when their grandchildren turn 18. These situations are relatively common for passing wealth along to future generations at a time when they’re deemed responsible enough to manage finances on their own.

Trusts can also exist to ensure that certain funds will be used in a specified manner with the help of a third-party trustee. Commonly, you will find a trustee that is responsible for managing the finances of these affairs, or issuing checks on behalf of the beneficiary for a set purpose like college.

Generally speaking, trusts are ultimately designed to appropriately manage funds. They may be structured to allow annual income releases or one-time payments for certain expenses. The specific details about why each trust is created are solely between the person creating it and the person it is bestowed upon.

Are Trusts Considered Separate or Marital Property?

As is the case in many issues regarding divorce, trusts can be considered separate or marital property depending upon the laws of your individual state. There is no cut-and-dry precedent for whether a trust could be determined to be a separate or marital property.

Most often, this issue hinges on the specific terms of the trust involved. If the terms are clear that the money was gifted to only one spouse, it is typically considered to be separate property. It becomes even more likely that a trust will be counted as separate property when the trust was bestowed prior to the beginning of a marriage.

When it comes to the terms of your trust fund, ambiguity could lead to the entire account being counted as marital property. It may seem unreasonable when it was created to provide income and inheritance for just one spouse. But in order to claim your trust as separate property, the terms must be clear.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can also contribute to how your trust will be counted in a settlement. If the trust fund was to be counted as combined property after the union was official, it could be equally divided between both spouses in a settlement.

The Terms of the Trust Are Important in Divorce

If the terms of your trust are ambiguous, you must consider a few other things prior to heading into your settlement agreements. Trusts could be factored into any potential alimony or support payments, which you are ordered to pay through the court. Many individuals who have access to a trust fund could have serious financial implications regarding their monthly obligation to their spouses and dependents.

A trust could also be counted as an income or asset during a property settlement. Without clear instructions and terms spelled out for the trust, it could be counted as one of these two items. In this type of scenario, it could lessen what you would otherwise be entitled to—in terms of dividing the marital assets.

Gain Control of Your Trust in Divorce

When you think that your marriage could have a rocky end, it is critical to ensure that the terms of your trust are completely clear. To ensure that there is no ambiguity when it comes to identifying your trust as separate property, have a lawyer review the details in the event of a future divorce.

Likewise, you should try to keep those trust funds separate from any major purchases that the two of you make as a married couple. If major portions of the trust fund are used to purchase items that become marital assets, it becomes even more unclear whether the trust fund should be counted as separate or marital property.

Set up prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that include information about the trust fund. These agreements can help protect your financial interests, and they can be referred to in court, should a divorce make it to trial. Putting measures in place to protect yourself gives you the best possible chance of success at securing a financially stable future for yourself. Your trust fund was created to give you more financial freedom to improve your life, so make sure that it stays in your hands — not your ex-spouse’s.

 

Find this information helpful? Share it with someone who needs it.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

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