Client Senario: My name is Mary, I’m 65 and have 3 adult children. My youngest daughter Sara is married to a man who is terrible. He doesn’t treat her well, isn’t a good father, he’s never around and I’m sure he is cheating on her. I want to make sure when I die, that none of my money gets passed to him, even if they are still married. What can I do.
Answer: Mary’s situation is fairly typical. Family law and estate planning both fall under what I call “people law.” In a day and age when 50% of marriages end in divorce, blended families, potential divorces, and complicated finances are inevitable.
In Arizona, an inheritance to a married child is typically deemed “separate property,” that will stay with that child in the event of a future divorce. However, if that inheritance is “co-mingled” with marital assets or community property, the situation gets much more complicated. An argument can be made that the once separate property has become a marital asset subject to division in the event of a divorce.
From Mary’s point of view, the easiest solution would be for her to set up a trust. A trust gives you more control over the distribution of the funds and can address the “what ifs?”
From Sara’s point of view, she needs to be careful about not co-mingling funds. If that inheritance becomes unidentifiable because let’s say the inheritance is invested in a family home, or boat, or vacation house…then it will be very difficult for the court to identify as separate property.
If you have any questions, scenarios or comments give me a call 480-649-2905