So, you’ve created a will, designating your heirs and setting forth their inheritance. You think everything has been well planned ahead of time. For all that, how sure are you that the inheritance you worked your lifetime to accumulate will be used and enjoyed by the people you want and by them alone?
Have you ever thought of what would happen to an inheritance if a child gets divorced or a lawsuit is brought against them in the future? Have these scenarios even crossed your mind?
If not, the following data will give you more to think about.
- 42 to 45 percent of children will divorce in their lifetime,
- 70% of families lose their wealth by the second generation, and
- Less than 20 percent of people with a $1 million net worth worry about being sued (compared to 80% of people with a net worth of $20 million plus).
It is important to think of ways to protect an inheritance for a child or other beneficiary against divorces and lawsuits.
Creating a will may not be enough. Often, what’s needed is a more robust estate plan, including a trust.
Protection Against Lawsuits
Heirs working in certain professions such as architects, doctors, engineers, and lawyers are prone to liabilities. Automobile accidents, medical malpractice, and internet defamation lawsuits can cost them millions. Thus, unless their inheritance is protected, it can easily be wiped out by various lawsuit claims.
A beneficiary’s inheritance can be protected from lawsuits and creditors by receiving it in trust (as opposed to outright). This can make it extremely difficult for creditors to go after this money, even if insurance becomes insufficient to satisfy a judgement obtained by a lawsuit. As needed, the trust can even be drafted to provide additional levels of protection.
Protection Against Divorces (of Heirs)
You do not want your hard-earned money enjoyed by the divorcing spouse of your child, right?
Placing your child’s inheritance in a trust can help to protect it from marriage dissolutions. This ensures your wealth stays within the family and will NOT be used by someone other than a child or other descendants.
Why a Trust?
A trust is an efficient tool that separates the ownership of an asset from the ability to benefit from it. Thus when you put an inheritance into a trust, it becomes an asset owned by another legal entity (the trust), which is separated from probate, increased tax liability, and even risks of a matrimonial division.
Since the trust becomes a separate entity from that of the beneficiary, it allows the inheritor to either purchase assets inside the trust or use the trust as a lender to keep it safe from matrimonial claims in the future.