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Pre-nuptial Agreements

Pre-nuptial Planning: Possible Outcomes Using an Offshore Trust

There are really only two possibilities. Your marriage will either end in divorce, or you will remain married and live happily ever after.

Possibility #1: Divorce

Let's start with the ugly possibility first -- divorce. The assets that you have in your offshore trust will remain in trust for your benefit, and your ex-wife will not be able to seize the assets. The assets that you legally transfer during your marriage will also be protected and will remain in trust for your benefit. You will have the funds at your disposal for a trip to Hawaii or a stay at a resort in the Cook Islands if you like! You could even take a trip to Cut and Shoot, Texas. There really is a Cut and Shoot, Texas, by the way. As nice as Cut and Shoot is, I must recommend Hawaii or the Cooks as having much better ocean vistas, beaches, and five-star restaurants. One cannot ignore the possibility of divorce given the fact that the divorce rate in the United States averages about 50%. This has nothing to do with whether you met your beautiful bride in Miami or Moscow . . . Kansas City or Kiev (or even in Cut and Shoot). If things don't work out because your bride only married you for gold-digging purposes, she will have to just dig somewhere else, as your assets will be secure in your offshore trust!

The assets in your offshore trust are not owned by you, and neither are they subject to what any divorce court judge thinks, says, or does. Also, you cannot be held in "contempt of court" and jailed for refusing to bring the assets back into the United States (assuming you have your offshore trust drafted by me or another qualified asset- protection attorney; otherwise, all bets are off).

Unlike a prenuptial agreement, offshore trusts are not subject to any state law in the United States or what a divorce court judge thinks is fair. Oh, and if you thought that your state's law will protect your assets regarding property you owned before you were married because such property is considered your "separate property" (like it would be in Texas), better think again! In Hawaii, a judge can give everything to your ex-spouse regardless of whether the property was owned by you before marriage! If you are thinking "that is no problem because I don't live in Hawaii" -- better think again! Your bridezilla could fly to Hawaii, establish residence there (rent an apartment and get utilities in her name in one day, etc.), and file for divorce and get the local judge to enter any type of temporary order, thereby establishing Hawaii as the jurisdiction that will govern your divorce! The Hawaii court will apply the legal principles of the state that govern the characterization of your assets that you own (assets not in a trust), such as whether the property is community property or not, etc.; and after giving careful deliberations to all evidence and argument of counsel, the court can award everything to your ex! Without a pre-divorce offshore trust, you can only HOPE that the George Strait song "All My Exes Live in Texas" will apply to you! With a pre- nuptial (or merely pre-divorce) offshore trust, it will not matter where she resides or where she files her petition for divorce because the assets you legally transferred into your offshore trust are absolutely protected.

Possibility #2: Live Happily Ever After

I mentioned that the divorce rate in the U.S. is about 50%, right? This means that your odds of remaining married and living happily ever after are also about 50% (and actually a little better than 50% if this is your first marriage). This means that you are likely to live happily ever after. Also, for you tens of thousands of gentlemen every year who find their bride in a foreign country, like Russia or the Ukraine, the divorce rate is a mere 20% -- LESS THAN HALF OF THE REGULAR DIVORCE RATE IN THE UNITED STATES! This statistic is provided by a study performed by a Ph.D. researcher who was hired by the federal government (INS) to study the issue.

If you remain married, have children, and sail on into retirement, you will have the same issues to contend with regarding asset protection -- only your wife will not be a creditor. Instead, you will need to ensure that your assets will be there for you both throughout your lives in spite of the lawsuit explosion that has been going on in the United States and in spite of the fact that it continues to get worse every day. Between contingency-fee trial lawyers looking to score a big kill, fraud (e.g., the "finger in the Wendy's chili" lawsuit where the claimant planted the finger in an effort to defraud the restaurant owner), jury verdicts hitting stratospheric levels, and judges who ignore the law as it is written and impose their own "reasoning" to reach their own desired result, if you are a professional such as a doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect, etc., or if you own a business, or if you just happen to have significant assets and drive on public highways -- you had better take steps to protect those assets because if you don't, you could lose everything from just one lawsuit. I am not kidding, and I am not trying to make up horror stories just to get your attention. Read the newspapers, watch the news on television, or talk to your buddies on the golf course. You need to protect your lifestyle, or you could end up buying a beach home in Hawaii for some trial lawyer instead of buying one for your beautiful bride.

Assuming that you and your bride are the same age, you will still need to plan for your assets to be there for her after you die because we men do not have as long of a life expectancy as women do. This disparity in life expectancy becomes even more of a concern and a significant planning point if you are considering marrying (or have already married) a woman many years younger than you are. This is true regardless of the country where she grew up -- it is just a fact of biology and of life expectancy data that a woman 10 or 15 years younger than you will outlive you by that number of years PLUS an additional dozen years or so beyond that!

Did you know that in many countries, a woman sees an older man as more stable, secure, mature, faithful, and a more attractive choice for a husband than someone in their 20's? This is especially true in the former Soviet states like Russia and Ukraine. It is quite common for a 45-year-old man to marry someone who is in her 20's. Occasionally, such a man will even marry someone 18 or 19!

You need to make absolutely certain that your wealth will be there for your wife and will be managed for her by professionals. You can provide that the trust will pay her a significant income stream for the rest of her life as well as have assets that can be used in the case of an emergency. The trustee can make living arrangements, pay her bills for her, provide caregivers to the extent she needs them, and keep her informed of the trust assets and the generous level of lifestyle that the assets you placed into the trust will provide her. Your offshore trust can even have separate subsidiary trusts for your children from a prior marriage and your new wife with each having their own separate account so there will be no fighting after you are gone because one or more of your children feel that your new wife is spending "their inheritance." It is your obligation to love and to provide for your wife. One of the first acts of faithfulness you can perform is to take steps now to protect her future by ensuring that the assets you are counting on to be there in retirement will actually be there -- and not expose these assets to the risk of loss due to our litigious society. What if years from now your elderly wife's foot presses on the accelerator instead of the brake and crashes her car into another car or even a shopping center filled with people? It happens. In December of 2006, a driver accidentally killed a lady when she drove her car into the Kroger's grocery store where my wife and I shop. Unfortunately, it can and does happen. As we age, our eye-hand coordination does not improve. If your wife seriously injures or kills someone and she faces a multi-million-dollar jury verdict, will she be able to maintain her lifestyle, or will the trial lawyer take everything?

Make sure your wife's memories of you will be one of a loving and faithful man who provided for her, protected her, and loved her like no man has ever loved her. Is your wife's future financially secure? Is she worth taking the time and money to establish an asset-protection and estate-planning trust to secure her future and yours as well? There are three asset-protection plans to choose from.
1. Cook Islands Trust and Nevis LLC combination plan: The cost to establish an offshore asset-protection plan (including an offshore asset-protection and estate-planning trust and offshore LLC) will be $22,000. This amount includes attorney's fees to establish the trust and includes $3,000 in pre-paid annual maintenance costs for trustee fees, government registration fees, etc., and also includes creating a foreign (Nevis) Limited Liability Company (LLC) including all of the first year's annual fees of $900 (for the government registration fee and the local registered agent fee for the Nevis LLC).
2. Nevis LLC alone plan: If you only want a Nevis LLC without any offshore trust, I will provide one for $3,000 which amount includes the pre-payment of the first year's annual fees of $900 for the government registration fee and the local registered agent fee. However, the "LLC alone" plan does not provide nearly as much asset protection as the trust/LLC combination or the trust alone plan provides.
3. Cook Islands Trust alone plan: If you want only an offshore asset-protection and estate-planning trust (without an LLC), the cost is $19,000 (including all first year costs).

Of course, in all cases, I will provide and submit to the U.S. government all required reporting forms for you concerning your foreign financial accounts and transfers thereto as required by federal law both upon the establishment of the accounts and initial transfers thereto. If having your assets and lifestyle absolutely protected is worth the investment, then please contact me, and I will be happy to help you. Once your assets are secured, you can focus on your fiance'e and not your finances!

Please contact us for a free no-obligation phone consultation with a qualified trust attorney.

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