Protection for Beneficiaries Using Discretionary Lifetime Trusts

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By placing a legal barrier between its property and its beneficiaries’ creditors or spouses if they divorce, a discretionary lifetime trust offers asset protection. Any beneficiaries who have children may benefit greatly from the creation of these trusts. It all boils down to the trust’s formation papers and the wording and terminology used in it.

Trusts with Unrestricted Powers for Beneficiaries Under 18

In order for a minor to be able to legally handle their own property or finances, an adult must do it on their behalf..” If you don’t identify anybody in your estate plan, the court will appoint someone to manage your children’s inheritances until they are old enough. This may be avoided via the use of a discretionary trust..

When a kid reaches a specific age, such as 25 or 30, many parents and grandparents decide that the trust should be terminated because they think the youngster is mature enough to invest, spend, and manage their own money. When the recipient reaches the required age, the trust is ended by transferring the remaining assets directly to them.

It’s at this moment that creditors, including judgment holders, get access to the beneficiary’s assets, which means that they may pursue their claims. Divorce procedures put the property at risk of being taken by the other party.

Protection for Beneficiaries Using Discretionary Lifetime Trusts. Source: Freepik

When a trust is “discretionary,” what is it that makes it so?

A discretionary trust is precisely what the name implies: The trustee has the final say on how much money is given to beneficiaries. Beneficiaries have no say in when or how their funds are distributed, and they can’t even demand distributions be made to them.

According to a majority of state courts, inheritances that aren’t explicitly stated in a trust deed or in accordance with the desires of the grantor or creator of the trust are treated as if they were made today, as if they had been given in accordance with the grantor or creator’s wishes.

Therefore, creditors and ex-spouses in divorce circumstances may access them and their valuations can be factored into the alimony and child support obligation calculations.

Some protection may be provided through irrevocable trusts with “spendthrift” wording, although this is only true if the trustee has discretion. As a result, a spendthrift trust’s assets may be accessed in divorce cases in many states.

Protection for Beneficiaries Using Discretionary Lifetime Trusts
Protection for Beneficiaries Using Discretionary Lifetime Trusts. Source: Freepik

Adult Beneficiaries Need Asset Protection, Too.

A discretionary lifetime trust may also be established for the benefit of an adult beneficiary, including your spouse. You may want to do this for the same reasons you did for a minor: to shield your assets from creditors, judgements, and divorcing spouses for the rest of your life. Both AB Trusts and ABC Trusts may be set up to safeguard your spouse’s assets.

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