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Protecting your child's inheritance from a spouse in a divorce

You want to leave your adult children an inheritance or perhaps give them a large chunk of money while you're still alive. However, you don't want to risk having half or more of that money go to their spouses should they end up divorcing.

It happens all too often. People lose significant parts of their inheritances, including money, property and businesses, that their families intended for them to have.

Maybe you don't care for your child's spouse or you don't see the marriage lasting. Maybe your child hasn't even begun contemplating marriage. You can still take steps to protect his or her financial future. Actually, if you take this action before there's a spouse in the picture, no one can take the action personally.

You can place the inheritance in a trust account in your child's name. If the assets remain in the trust, the spouse isn't entitled to them, even in a divorce. Setting up a trust costs more money than gifting money to your child or simply designating an inheritance in your will. However, it's worth it if it can help ensure your child's financial security.

Of course, if your child removes money from the trust and commingles it with marital assets (such as using it to buy a house that's in both spouse's names or to open a joint account), that will make the funds marital assets. That's why it's important for anyone who is acquiring a significant amount of assets to learn what steps to take to protect them. An experienced California estate planning attorney can provide guidance to help ensure that your hard-earned money stays in the family.

Source: Kiplinger, "A Trust Can Protect Your Adult Child’s Assets from a Failed Marriage," Lisa Brown, CFP, accessed March 24, 2017

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