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Offered by Dolan & Associates, P.C.

The storybook marriage was over, Mary lost her job, and with the extra time at home her husband’s infidelity was discovered. Mary’s father had died seven years ago and left Mary a substantial inheritance. Never guessing that their marriage would end this way, Mary simply merged her inheritance with all of the family’s assets. Unfortunately, during the divorce, there was no clear distinction between Mary’s inheritance and the remainder of the family’s assets. The judge was unable to determine the difference and divided the total of the assets equally between her and her unfaithful husband. The divorce was bad enough, but to make matters worse, this meant that Mary just lost half of her inheritance.

The outcome of this case could have been avoided. If Mary’s father had prepared a thorough estate plan, he would have left the inheritance to Mary in trust. Mary would then be able to control the trust, but the trust would help her keep the inherited assets separate from the marital assets. If Mary used the assets inside the trust for her benefit, but did not draw them out of the trust and spend them, she could have easily identified the inherited assets in the divorce. As a result, the inherited assets would have been her separate property and would not have been divided in the divorce.

Estate Planning can and should be more than avoiding probate and saving taxes. A properly designed estate plan can provide many additional advantages that protect your family. Most of these protections are ignored in cookie-cutter, form-driven estate plans. Individuals should look closely at all of the benefits a properly designed estate plan can provide them while they are alive, and provide their families after their death. After all, when is it okay that our children’s ex-spouses receive the inheritance you worked so hard to accumulate and pass on to your children? If you would like to learn more about an alternative estate planning process that is producing great results for families please visit: to sign up for a complementary educational workshop.

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Dolan & Associates | Estate Plans