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Property division: Third-party trusts

While divorce negotiations involving property division can be anything but simple, assets can normally be placed in one of two categories: straightforward assets with tangible values and those that are more complicated and require a more nuanced interpretation. Examples of straightforward assets include those typical to property division settlements, such as real estate, joint bank accounts, vehicles and boats. While negotiations may still be extremely heated and contentious, if the case does end up going to trial, these types of assets are usually fairly easy for the courts to decide how to divide.

With more complicated assets, inheritances placed in a trust serving as one example common to high asset divorces, it can take the courts much longer to decide how or even if the property should be divided. Third-party trusts can be a valuable tool for those wishing to protect some assets or inheritance income in the case of a divorce, but it is not an automatic rule that these cannot be deemed marital property and subject to property division regulations.

In any divorce that involves property division, it's always easiest if the two parties can come to an agreement on the terms for the settlement instead of going through the adversarial process of a trial. However, in many cases, this just isn't a realistic possibility, and that's where having knowledgeable legal representation comes into play.

A family law attorney can also be an invaluable asset if you need to appeal the first ruling by the family courts. Because the laws surrounding how third-party trusts are deemed as personal or marital property have many gray areas and room for interpretation, appeals are a common part of the process.

Source: Forbes, "What Divorcing Women Need To Know About Protecting Third-Party Trusts," Jeff Landers, Oct. 08, 2015

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