Asset & Divorce Protection Planning
Gary L. White, Esq.
You work hard to build a solid financial foundation for yourself and your family. Of course, you want to ensure that your loved ones and descendants receive the benefit of your efforts. But, that won’t happen by chance. Ensuring that your assets stay in the family requires careful planning. Otherwise, your estate may be dissipated as it passes from one generation to the next. Some of the most common risks include:
Loss of assets in a divorce during your lifetime
Creditors of an heir collecting against assets after they pass to the next generation
Assets being awarded to the former spouse of an heir in a divorce proceeding
An heir passing away without children and routing assets outside the family
Fortunately, Florida residents who plan ahead have a variety of tools for protecting assets and keeping them in the family. Some of the most common include dynasty trusts and pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
Estate Planning During a Divorce
Unfortunately, your marriage is irretrievably broken and either you or your spouse has filed a dissolution of marriage action. As a former divorce attorney, Gary L. White litigated several cases where one of the spouses died during the pendency of a divorce. When one spouse dies, the pending divorce action “dies” as well.
Without proper planning, the outcome could have the deceased spouse spinning in his or her grave. If estate planning documents haven’t been drafted or updated, your soon-to-be-ex spouse could inherit everything. Similarly, it is important to create or amend advance healthcare directives during a divorce, unless you are comfortable with your soon-to-be-ex spouse having medical decision-making authority over your life.
Estate Planning After a Divorce
Of course, these same issues apply when your marriage has been dissolved. Although divorce severs some legal ties and allocates assets, you cannot assume that the final decree will resolve all issues—or even the most critical ones. Every aspect of your estate plan should be reviewed, from your will and advance healthcare directives to the question of nominating a financial guardian to manage any assets you may leave to minor children.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
When you marry, you hope it will be forever. But, responsible planning requires considering and preparing for every eventuality. Second marriages and blended families make it more important than ever for both parties to protect their assets and their heirs.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are similar in scope; the key difference is that a prenuptial agreement is executed prior to the marriage and a postnuptial (or “antenuptial) agreement is executed during the marriage. Each may include provisions for separate non-marital property, division of marital property, and even a waiver of survivor’s rights. A waiver of survivor’s rights is common in marriages involving older couples with separate children, as it allows assets to pass from each spouse to his or her own descendants.
However, both technical and substantive requirements apply. A non-compliant prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, or one that is deemed fundamentally unfair, may not be enforceable.
Working with an experienced attorney can help to ensure that your agreement is effective and achieves your goals.
A Florida Dynasty Trust Provides Bloodline Protection
“Bloodline protection” simply means a legal structure to ensure that your assets stay in your family generation after generation. A dynasty trust provides this protection by preserving assets within a series of sub-trusts that are inaccessible to creditors, divorcing spouses, and anyone else who might have a claim on a beneficiary’s assets.
A well-structured and carefully-managed dynasty trust can provide benefits to your grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and far beyond. However, creation of an effective dynasty trust is complicated, and simple mistakes could leave your assets vulnerable.
Attorney Gary L. White has the experience necessary to create a dynasty trust that provides for your family across generations.
The Right Experience Matters
Unlike many estate lawyers, attorney Gary L. White has extensive experience in the family law arena. That in-depth understanding of both fields provides a distinctive advantage to estate planning clients who are contemplating, going through, or have recently been through a divorce.