By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD
Hollywood is abuzz over Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher splitting up. The media is speculating what might happen if they don’t have a prenuptial agreement, and there is talk that they don’t. If there are no agreements, according to the media talking heads, Ashton and Demi might have to split all assets 50/50 under California law.
In many states, assets brought into the marriage, received by gift from someone other than your spouse or inherited from a parent, are “immune” from divorce settlement. They are deemed separate assets that your spouse has no claim on. But, that is not always as clean cut as young Ashton. If you commingle funds, which is so common and often difficult to avoid, then there is a chance even otherwise separate assets are brought into the soup.
But, is that the whole story? If Demi hired an estate planner that was as good as her plastic surgeon, she should have transferred (and maybe she did!) significant assets to a domestic asset protection trust before she even married Ashton. That could have put much of her wealth out of harms way without publicity, and without, as the papers keep talking, a prenuptial agreement. If Demi had done that type of planning, the media might never know, and instead of fretting over the Hard Rock Hotel, it will be tough rocks for Ashton.
What might this all mean to mere mortals with less than $290 million to tangle over? While Ashton and Demi can pay whopping legal fees and still have a fortune left, you can’t! Plan ahead of time:
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