Asset trusts lead to billionaire divorce dispute

When North Carolina couples are getting a divorce, there is a point in the process in which they are supposed to share information about their assets and debts for the purpose of property division. However, there could be cases in which one person tries to hide assets. One Texas woman learned after her husband filed for divorce that he had moved the majority of what she thought was more than $2 billion in marital property to South Dakota asset trusts that she could not access.

Her husband’s attorneys said the homes, yachts, private island and even such personal items as tableware were the property of the trusts and not the couple. According to them, the total value of their marital property was $12 million. Asset trusts in South Dakota are a popular way for wealthy people throughout the world to protect money from creditors, spouses, legal judgments and taxes. Unlike trusts in many other states, trusts there can be established in perpetuity. Furthermore, a spouse can be removed a beneficiary of a trust without being informed, which happened to the woman in this case.

Her husband had transferred the property into new trusts, and according to a lawsuit she filed in 2018, he did it deliberately to deny her access to their marital property. However, a hearing scheduled for April had to be postponed.

People who believe a spouse is hiding assets may want to discuss this with an attorney. Assets can be hidden in a divorce in a number of different ways, such as moving property to a friend or family member’s house, falsifying records on a small business or emptying a joint account. If it can be demonstrated in court that one spouse deliberately hid assets, this could lead to less favorable financial settlement for the individual who hid them.

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