Friday, September 23, 2005

"Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.”

That advice, offered by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. to young ladies, was essential in the 19th century. Back then, women who failed to put their money in trust before marriage had to hand over the funds to their husbands.

And it’s still good advice, according to “Beyond the Prenup” (subscribers only) in The Wall Street Journal.
Protecting wealth from the financial ravages of divorce has long been a key concern of families, who often enlist lawyers to draft a detailed prenup spelling out what's his and hers before the wedding invitations are sent out.
But wealth managers are increasingly trying other strategies -- especially the creative use of trusts, which can be effective in sheltering assets a spouse has earned before the marriage or will inherit.
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Premarital planning tactics vary depending on whether the assets in question were generated by the bride or groom or their parents. If it's the parents that are wealthy, advisers recommend that they leave gifts or inheritances to their children in trust, rather than outright. In general, inherited property and gifts, even those received during marriage, are considered out of the marital estate, but income and appreciation may not always be.

When parents transfer family wealth into trusts, that property is segregated into its own bucket, clearly outlining what's inherited or given and what's not. By contrast, says New York lawyer Arlene Dubin, a gift or inheritance deposited into a bank account runs the risk of being subject to division at divorce, if it's commingled with marital assets such as a joint tax refund or even a paycheck.

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