Irrevocable Trusts

When there is a Trust that has been established as part of Estate Planning between a husband and a wife, that Trust should be considered in the course of a divorce, and while you may not “own’ the Trust, the funds within the Trust may be a ‘marital asset’ that needs to be addressed.

Consider the family that had established a Life Insurance Trust several years ago. The husband created the trust to provide for his wife and his children should he pass away. There was about $5 million of life insurance death benefit in the trust and about $250,000 of cash value within the three life insurance policies that were owned by the Trust. Neither the Husband or the Wife ever thought about the Trust, as a matter of fact and neither one of them brought in a document related to the Trust; it was only through the review of the life insurance policies that the trust was discovered. Once found, both spouses were in agreement that they wanted the Trust to stay intact especially for the kids.

“The Grantor’s Spouse”

Often, an irrevocable trust lists the beneficiary as the ‘Grantor’s Spouse’, whomever that may be at the time of the Grantor’s death. A review of their Trust document showed this was the case for their Trust – and the husband was intent on remarrying!

Through discussion and a mediated negotiation, we were able to restructure the $250,000 of cash value for the children’s education, but if this issue had not been caught and addressed prior to the divorce, both Mom and Dad could have made a quarter of a million dollar mistake.

In this case, when they divorce and he remarried, the new spouse would have become the primary beneficiary. There was a good chance their children might not receive a thing.

Teacher's Pensions and Survivorship

The unknown world that encompasses the ins and outs of teacher's pensions can be very daunting; especially when you are going through a divorce.
Here's a sample scenario with a potentially large pitfall:
Your spouse is a teacher and you and your spouse have decided that you will be receiving a portion of her pension after the divorce. You work with the attorneys to write up the agreement and get the proper legal document in place to assign a portion of the CT State Teacher's pension to you. Everything is done properly and you are comfortable that you will now share in the CT Teacher's pension when your former spouse retires. Now for the glitch - little did/do you know that, your former spouse is planning on getting re-married. You think that does not affect me, I've got a court order to be assigned a portion of the pension as of the date of the divorce.
Do you know what happens to vour portion of the pension if your former, now remarried spouse passes away before s/he retires?
The short answer is, according to the CT State Teacher's Pension website, if the Participant spouse passes away before s/he retires, and s/he has a new spouse (a Statutory Survivor), you may not be eligible to receive the pension benefit despite the court ordered Domestic Relations Order (DRO.)
The chance may be slim that your former spouse would pass away prior to retiring, but quite often the CT Teacher's Pension is the largest asset in the family. And often that monthly pension check plays a big part in enabling a financially comfortable retirement.
There are many solutions available, all of which are very case specific. One of many possible options is to take outCa life insurance policy with your spouse as the insured and you as the beneficiary of the policy. The terms of the insurance policy need to be defined by your situation.
Remember, every case is different and this advice may not be right for you. Consult a legal and/or financial adviser to achieve the solution that works best for you and your situation.

Welcome to Our New Blog

Every few weeks, we will be focusing on a different financial aspect of the divorce process. Right now we will be exploring the unknown world of teachers’ pensions.

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