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Estate planning tools can protect assets from child's ex-spouse

While a parent will typically want to see his or her assets go to a child, seeing those assets go instead to the child's ex-spouse in a bitter divorce is generally going to be anathema to the parent. A child's ex-spouse can get in the way of what the decedent clearly wanted, which was to keep his or her assets in the family. There are estate planning techniques that may be implemented in Ohio to make sure that the person's assets go to the right persons.

One way to assure that a spouse will not end up with part of a child's assets is through a prenuptial agreement. This is a valid, negotiated contract that takes place at or just before the marriage is consummated. When a child has announced intentions to get married, that child's parent may gently suggest that the child obtain a prenuptial agreement with the soon-to-be spouse. This can keep the parent's assets strictly in the hands of the child and not ultimately transferred into the hands of an ex-spouse. 

In addition, an experienced estate planning attorney can create a dynasty trust to keep one's assets in a child's name. The provision is incorporated into one's will or revocable living trust. It will create a protective wall around the child's inheritance. The dynasty trust will help shield the child's inherited assets from divorce and creditors, thereby keeping them in the family. 

With the foregoing estate planning concerns in mind, one should not appoint a child as the beneficiary of one's  IRA or 401(k). If that is done, the child may select his or her spouse as the next recipient. A special kind of trust that is recognized by Ohio law can be drawn up to protect against the potential ravages of divorce and creditors. It allows one to declare that any amounts remaining at the child's death will go to the grandchildren. Also, one can appoint a neutral trustee to add an extra layer of protection against an ex-spouse who may try to raid the assets for his or her own purposes.

Source:, "Protecting Your Estate from a Child's ex-Spouse", Peter Klenk, Nov. 9, 2017

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