Using trusts to secure assets in the event of divorce – Written by Joseph M. Lucas & Associates, L.L.C.

Before people in Illinois get married, they can play an active role in managing their assets and properties to protect themselves and their financial future. The manner in which title to property is held can have a dramatic impact on property division when a divorce occurs. As part of this, it is valuable to have at least a basic understanding of the use of financial trusts.

A trust can be set up by a single person in order to transfer ownership of a separate property or business into a separate trust. As a result, the business, including its increase in value, would be regarded as owned by the trust, and not the individual, in the event of divorce, and therefore not subject to division. A person does not need the permission of their fiancé or anyone else to set up a trust.

State laws on how trusts operate differ, so it is important to consult with an experienced attorney before setting up such trust arrangements. Before a person enters into a marriage, an attorney can work with a person to draw up a prenuptial agreement or trust so that business and personal assets are protected in the event of a divorce. These arrangements can go a long way in securing property and other assets if couples need to split up.

When a trust is set up before a marriage, it is important to remember that it may be referenced in alimony and spousal support hearings. If money from a pre-existing trust is going towards the maintenance of the trustee, that money may be ruled as a deduction from any spousal support that is ordered. However, the legalities and terms of this type of arrangement can be very confusing and differ from state to state. Working with an attorney who understands complex property and asset division can be very beneficial for couples in Illinois.

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