How asset trusts can be used to shield property in a divorce

How asset trusts can be used to shield property in a divorce

In some cases, when Michigan couples are going through a divorce, one spouse might attempt to hide assets from the other. Some people may use asset trust laws in South Dakota to do this. Much as Switzerland was for decades, South Dakota is fast becoming a place for the wealthy to place assets out of reach of spouses, creditors, taxes and legal judgments.

Inaccessible trusts

The divorce of a Texas couple has put the trusts in the news. Married since 1989, the two had accumulated assets estimated to be worth more than $2 billion. They owned homes in Maine and London, a private island in the Bahamas and multiple yachts. However, after the man filed for divorce in 2017, the woman discovered that he had placed nearly all of their assets, including such personal items as tableware and jewelry, into asset trusts that she could not access.

With her legal bills mounting well into the millions, she says that she may be left with nothing if she is unable to get any of the assets that are in the trusts. Her husband’s attorneys list their marital property as having a value of $12 million. They say that the assets in the trust are the property of the trust and do not belong to her or her husband.

People do not have to be wealthy to hide assets in a divorce, and doing so could be as simple as moving property to a friend or family’s house or taking all the money out of a shared account. People who are going through a divorce should avoid taking any actions that could be interpreted as hiding assets since this could weigh against them if they have to go to litigation to determine how their property will be divided.

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