Insight

Insight

Overlapping Issues of Family Law, Trusts and Estates

The article title, “Overlapping Issues of Family Law, Trusts and Estates” is meant to reflect the importance of considering these areas of law together.  We have experience in Trusts and Estates, as well as in Family Law.  You can see the overlap of the family law and estates issues in divorce cases: what happens if someone inherits money and then files for divorce?  You can see the overlap in spousal and child support cases: can you use a trust to protect assets from being considered available for child support?  You can see the overlap in estate planning: what if you want to leave money to your adult child but do not trust his or her spouse or suspect she or he may divorce soon?

If you are interested in these types of issues, you may want to read on to get a sense of how they may play out in the limited context of a prenuptial agreement.

Protecting Your Assets From Your Spouse

From a personal perspective, prenuptial agreements are not very appealing, but from a common sense and legal point of view they can be essential.  Getting married is the biggest financial decision in most people’s lives, but many do not consider the financial entanglements that marriage creates.  Just ask anyone who has lost a house or retirement plan in a divorce.

Despite reading articles about the importance of using a prenuptial agreement as a tool for planning, plenty of people feel uncomfortable with prenuptial agreements.  Luckily, there are secondary measures, not all as good as a prenuptial agreement, but perhaps more in line with your personal views and the realities of your relationship.  For example, there are ways to structure corporate documents to insulate your business from divorce proceedings, whether your own divorce or that of a business partner.  Buy-sell agreements among shareholders, and corporate insurance policies in the event of a forced buyout can be effective tools to protect the business.  Likewise, postnuptial agreements are an option, even if the prenuptial agreement seemed awkward at the time of marriage.  A postnuptial agreement can be all encompassing, or it can be limited to a spouse relinquishing claims on an interest in a business, a retirement account, or the increase in value on an inheritance.