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Do separate trusts make sense for married couples?

Kent area residents who are thinking about estate planning may want to spend some time investigating separate trusts. There are often many benefits for married couples who create separate trusts in their estate plan.

One benefit of a separate trust is that people can isolate creditors from the other spouse. In a separate trust situation marital assets are divided equally among the couple's individual trusts. This can protect the couple's assets from judgements and creditors. If one spouse has a catastrophic lawsuit filed against that person, then only that person's assets are at risk and not the person's spouse's assets. Therefore, this protects half of the couple's estate. If they had joint accounts the entire account could be at risk.

After one spouse dies separate trusts protect the living spouse from creditors as well. The surviving spouse has full access to their deceased spouse's trust but that trust is protected from creditors of the surviving spouse. The assets in the deceased spouse's trust is protected from any judgement filed against the living spouse which protects the estate's value for the intended heirs.

Finally, separate trusts can protect a person's assets from a marriage situation they may not approve of after their death. Remarriage protection can protect a trust from a remarriage situation where the new spouse would want to claim the assets. Unless a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is signed that trust is protected. Also, after a spouse dies separate trusts generally have less administration because the assets are already separated and titled to each individual spouse.

Source: The Times Herald, "Separate trusts offer more benefits for married couples," Matt Wallace, May 16, 2015

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