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How Does It Affect Your Divorce Case When the Legal Owners of Your Property Are Non-Human Entities


One of the ways the rich keep getting richer without paying taxes is that much of their wealth does not technically belong to them.  When a wealthy person dies, it may appear to the probate court that he is as poor as a church mouse, owning nothing but a one-bedroom condominium and a checking account with a few hundred dollars in it.  Meanwhile, the rest of his property legally belongs to trusts and limited liability corporations (LLCs), and his surviving relatives inherit it out of view of the probate court, so the cycle of generational wealth continues.  This phenomenon of non-human legal entities is much more of a problem in the context of divorce than it is in the context of estate law.  No one, no matter how spoiled, would dare to complain that their grandparents made them a beneficiary of a trust as opposed to a beneficiary of a will.  On the other hand, it is a big problem if your spouse’s money is in accounts that belong to shell corporations instead of to your spouse, just so the divorce court will not count it as marital property and divide it between you and your spouse upon finalizing your divorce.  Wealthy people hiding assets from their spouses is just one of the ways that things that have taxpayer ID numbers but do not have bodies or souls can make divorce complicated.  A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you if the trusts and LLCs that were a source of comfort during your marriage are an albatross around your neck now that you are getting divorced.

The Formerly Married Couple and the LLC That Owned Their Nonmarital Home

Everyone in South Florida has heard the story of how Phil Collins, the 80s pop star and highly accomplished drummer, lived in Miami with his ex-wife Orianne Cevey after they got divorced.  The family reconciliation was sweet, and for five years, the former couple and their children stayed together as a family, before a breakup that led to a legal battle at least as ugly as their divorce.  A complicating factor in their legal dispute was that their post-divorce family home belonged to neither former spouse, but rather to an LLC Collins had established.

The Revocable Marriage Vows and the Irrevocable Trust

Another wealthy Florida couple got entangled in a legal battle over an irrevocable trust.  During the marriage, the husband set up the trust with the wife and her descendants as beneficiaries.  The trust instrument did not say anything about whether the trust would continue or dissolve if the couple divorced.  In some circumstances, courts have the authority to modify or dissolve irrevocable trusts, but in this case, the court left the trust undisturbed, and it did not classify the property owned by the trust as marital property.

Contact Schwartz | White About Grappling With Corporate Entities in Divorce

A South Florida family law attorney can help you if a trust or LLC is making your divorce case more complicated.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.




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