Marital Trusts: Protection for Future Spouses
Married couples that desire a certain degree of certainty in their estate plan often opt for marital trusts. Marital trusts allow for the first-spouse-to-die to set aside assets in a trust – a protective bubble, so to speak -- for the sole benefit of the surviving spouse during his or her lifetime. But, upon the death of the surviving spouse, the marital trust’s beneficiaries have already been designated by the first-spouse-to-die for any assets that have not been used by the surviving spouse.
During the lifetime of the surviving spouse, distributions from the trust can range from being very liberal, or standard -- health, education, maintenance and support of the surviving spouse.
When a couple’s home is one of the largest assets of the estate, it may be placed in the marital trust. The surviving spouse may sell the home, opting to downsize; but the excess home’s sale proceeds and the new home are always within the protective bubble of the marital trust.
With the assets held within the protective bubble of the marital trust, the surviving spouse does not own these assets directly. In this regard, we limit the access of “Debonair Don” or “Frilly Lilly” (the potential future marriage mate of the surviving spouse).