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Lawsuit in billionaire divorce alleges assets hidden in trusts

Georgia residents who are not involved with their marital finances could find out during a divorce that their spouse has moved assets into a trust they cannot access. A split between two Texas billionaires has drawn attention to the existence of asset trusts in South Dakota, where protective trust laws mean people from all over the country and the world are putting their money there.

The Texas billionaires who are divorcing owned a huge amount of property. Their assets included a 180-foot yacht, a private Bahamian island, five homes in Maine, a home in London, an Egyptian mummy worth millions and a number of personal effects that had belonged to Marilyn Monroe. The couple married in 1989. The man built the fortune after the marriage, and he filed for divorce in 2017. In 2018, the woman filed a lawsuit against her husband, alleging that he created trusts in order to hide the assets from her and remove them from her share of the community property. The man’s attorneys say that the assets belong to the trust and thus are not shared property.

The woman said she knew her husband used offshore trusts but had assumed she would get half of everything. However, she may only receive enough to pay for her legal bills, which are at $3 million.

Even when couples have a financial life that is as complicated as this one, they may be able to reach a settlement agreement without going to court. However, if one person is hiding assets, this is generally not possible. People do not have to be extremely rich to hide assets. It can be as simple as cleaning out a bank account or falsifying bookkeeping on a small business. People who believe their spouse is hiding assets might want to discuss this with an attorney.