When should I start planning for marriage?Sep 04, 2023
The book The Divorce Firewall Strategy was written to help people plan ahead for marriage and avoid potential problems in the event of divorce to the same extent that many of my clients plan their estates ahead of time to avoid probate court. In one case, we are setting up a revocable living trust, putting assets into the trust, and then managing the trust until people pass on and the trust assets go to the correct beneficiaries without probate. In the case of potential divorce, a premarital agreement lays out a couple’s mutual understanding of how the marriage would run and how assets and responsibilities would work in the event of divorce, while a Domestic Asset Protection Trust provides added protection around separate assets to help block divorce and other lawsuits from reaching your money.
As with many of my books, chapters have fictional stories surrounding characters. This story from a chapter in The Divorce Firewall Strategy (available at www.divorcefirewall.com) is the story of two uncles showing their newly-employed niece how she should be setting up her life to provide it asset protection, and it might be worth some of my clients to pass this along to their adult children.
Aimee had no idea what she was doing in a lawyer’s office at 25 years old, but she trusted Uncle Rick and Uncle Rob. Well. Rick was her uncle on her mother’s side, and Rob was their cousin. However, Aimee grew up always calling them both “uncle.” She trusted them both, and when she graduated with her M.B.A. and landed her first real job, a present from her uncles was them paying for a strategy session with their attorney. The four of them sat around a large conference room table, and it was Uncle Rob who began.
“Aimee, I know you have probably heard some of what happened when I divorced Stacy,” he said matter of factly. “I’m sure you haven’t heard all of it, though.”
“All I know is what I heard from my mom, and she said it was messy,” Aimee replied.
The three men laughed out loud.
“What’s so funny?” Aimee asked.
“Aimee, I’m your uncles’ attorney Chuck Ocean, and I can assure you that the divorce was most certainly not messy,” the attorney said.
“But Aunt Stacy had called mom several times, and it always ended up with her screaming into the phone,” Aimee said.
“Chuck didn’t say that Stacy liked the terms of the divorce,” Rick said. “He just said it wasn’t messy.”
“That’s why we wanted to bring you here,” Rob said. “From the start, I made sure that I was protecting myself from all of the ridiculousness in the world so I could grow and build my future without anyone trying to take it away from me. That’s why when I was about your age I came to Mr. Ocean here, and he helped me set up a trust and begin a system to ward off lawsuits, creditors, and all other kinds of legal and financial disasters, including a potential future divorce. It was all planned out ahead of time.”
“By creating the strategy, maintaining it over time, and adding to it, I was able to keep everything I worked for and saved from Stacy during the divorce,” Rob continued. “That’s why there was no hesitation in filing for divorce when Stacy cheated on me.”
“She cheated on you!” Aimee practically yelled. “I had no idea.”
“Well, neither did your mom the first few times Stacy called, but I set her straight,” Rick said. “After that, your mom blocked Stacy’s number.”
“The point is that I kept everything I worked for and built because I had this ‘firewall strategy’ in place long before it was needed,” Rob continued. “In the divorce, Stacy kept her stuff, but the only thing she saved of her own money during fifteen years of marriage is the house she’s now living in and her 401k. I kept all of the rental properties, the investments, everything. The right combination of a Domestic Asset Protection Trust, corporate entities, and a solid prenuptial agreement that kept these assets separate made all of the difference in the world.”
“And that’s why you’re here,” Chuck said. “Your uncles want to make sure you get your own trust put in place now and build on that as life progresses. When the time comes, we’ll look at cohabitation agreements, prenups, and other protections to secure your wealth for you, and eventually your children.”
“Whoa, children?” Aimee said, looking a little overwhelmed. “My boyfriend and I have only just started talking about moving in together. We’re a long way off from marriage let alone children.”
“You mean your boyfriend, the artist, who is still looking for work?” Rick said more than asked.
“Sounds like it isn’t too soon to also talk about that cohabitation agreement,” Chuck said.
For more information, check out The Divorce Firewall Strategy on Amazon by clicking here, and check out the YouTube video of the strategy being presented at a national estate planning conference by clicking here.
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