If you are the parent of an adult child who is in a dodgy marriage, you may not feel entirely comfortable handing over your entire estate to your son or daughter. Imagine if your child divorced after your death, and suddenly your estate value was up for grabs in an equitable division proceeding! How do you use estate planning to make sure your child is provided for, even in the event that he divorces? Today, Florida parents get a few tips about asset protection from a son- or daughter-in-law.

It is possible to transfer assets exclusively to your son or daughter without allowing your child’s spouse access to the money. It is critical that the assets are not commingled, however; that is, your child cannot put his inheritance in a jointly held account and still expect to have sole access to these assets. Inherited funds are often exempt from equitable distribution rules in states such as Florida.

Your strategy, then, would be to hand over assets only in your child’s name that would not be intermixed with the rest of the family finances. In many cases, this is achieved through the use of trusts which can be protected against claims from a divorcing spouse. Trusts should be fitted with a clause that would prevent the transfer of any contents to another party. In that way, creditors are prevented from accessing the trusts, and so are ex-spouses.

Parents who are concerned that their assets could be whittled away by irresponsible in-laws may be able to use trusts to not only prevent that occurrence, but also to avoid unfair estate taxes. Trusts have a variety of benefits that extend past the simple tax-deferred status, however. A qualified probate attorney may be able to help Florida residents learn whether a trust is the right estate planning tool for their specific needs.

Luis E. Barreto