Protecting What Matters Most

Asset trusts in one state could complicate divorce

The end result of a New York divorce is that the spouses will ultimately divide the marital estate. In order to figure out what property is subject to division, each spouse will provide an accounting of their property. In some cases, a spouse may try to engage in deception by hiding assets. Courts do not like this and will often punish a spouse who is caught in this behavior. However, it is more difficult when a spouse has hidden assets and it is allowed by a state’s laws.

Texas billionaire moves money to South Dakota

One billionaire did exactly this. He and his wife had a net worth estimated above $2 billion. They owned scores of homes and expensive artwork while living a life of luxury. However, the husband proceeded to take all of the couple’s money and moved it all to South Dakota trusts. Perhaps he was laying the groundwork for a divorce because trust property is well-protected in South Dakota. These trusts are shrouded in secrecy, and they are virtually impenetrable.

From $2 billion to $12 million

His wife is learning this the hard way. She has tried for years to access these trusts to obtain her share of the marital property. What she has learned is that the trusts may not be considered marital property because they have been moved out of her husband’s name. As it stands now, the size of the marital estate is $12 million. There is a trial pending, but the wife faces long odds in her quest to obtain her share of these assets.

Your divorce attorney may be able to give you peace of mind to know that what you are seeing as an accounting of the assets is accurate. If there is anything that seems amiss, your attorney may request additional information and investigate where the money went. They might also challenge the valuation of property listed on the financial disclosure forms if it appears that the assets are valued too low.