Good estate planning and proper use of trusts can help neutralize threats to your assets.

What threats, you might ask. Consider taxes, lawsuits, probate fees, costs, family disputes and loss to in-laws.

  1. Do you have a married child who might become divorced later in life?

Unfortunately, in these modern times, the risk of divorce is high. Some statistics indicate that nearly 50 percent of newly married couples will divorce at some point.

Leaving assets to married children in trust, instead of outright, can protect these assets from claims of alimony and division in a divorce.

  1. Do you have a child or grandchild with special needs?

If there are government benefits a loved one receives, then leaving assets to this person in trust, instead of outright, can help preserve these benefits for your loved one.

  1. Do you have a child or loved one who has demonstrated an inability to manage assets?

Perhaps the loved one is in serious debt or has a gambling problem. Leaving assets to him or her in trust, instead of outright, can protect these assets from irresponsible behavior.

  1. Do you have a successful child who is in a “high risk” profession?

Perhaps you have a daughter who is a surgeon. This profession brings with it a significant exposure to liability from lawsuits. Leaving assets to such a child in trust, instead of outright, can protect these assets from future lawsuits.

  1. Do you have exposure to lawsuits?

If yes, we can make a few planning moves that can protect you in the event you get sued. This is often applicable to retired folks who were engineers or doctors – cases in which liability can be delayed.

While there are many tax-related benefits that can be achieved with trusts, a carefully tailored trust can accomplish many non-tax objectives that should be considered in every case.

Consult with an estate planning attorney to discover the best options for your family situation.

Mark F. Winn, J.D., Master of Laws (LL.M.) in estate planning, is a local asset protection, estate planning and elder law attorney.