We have all heard of staying together for the sake of the children, but have your heard of getting a divorce to safeguard the children’s inheritance?
It happens more often than you may think and one of the most recent occurrences is in a case currently before the courts in Palm Beach County, Florida.
Under the law of most states, a spouse is entitled to 33 1/3 of the other’s property if that spouse dies without a will or trust that divides the estate in some other manner. However, in the event of a divorce, a spouse may be entitled to at least 50% of all the property that was accumulated during the course of the marriage by the efforts of one or both spouses.
The spouse, after receiving the 50% distribution of the marital assets, is free to do whatever he or she wants with the money; including passing it on to the children.
That is exactly what 89 year-old Lucille “Lovey” Hadelsman is trying to do in suing Burt, her 90 year old husband, in the Florida case of Handelsman v. Handlesman.
Lovey and Burt Handelsman have a real estate fortune worth over $500 million. The couple started their real estate empire 50 years ago at their kitchen table.
Lovey has accused Burt of having an affair with a woman nearly 30 years his junior. Lovey also accuses Burt of conspiring with his lover to siphon assets that rightfully belong to Lovey, and upon the couple’s death, their children and grandchildren.
Although crippled by arthritis and wheelchair bound, Lovey is pressing on with the divorce. Under Florida law, in the event of a divorce she would be entitled to 50 percent of the real estate assets. Lovey intends to pass on these assets to their children. It seems that Burt has no intention of doing anything of the sort. If Lovey dies prior to the finalization of the divorce then her share under Florida’s trust and estate’s laws may fall to 30 percent. In this case a difference of 30 percent versus 50 percent of the marital assets represents millions of dollars of inheritance for the children.
The children, of course, are on their mother’s side in this divorce battle.
The average husband and wife may not have millions of dollars to pass on to their children but they may have the marital home, vacation properties and retirement assets that are titled in such a way that upon the death of one spouse the other spouse will take all of the assets leaving the children with nothing.
If you are currently estranged from your spouse and/or are concerned that upon your death your spouse will give the marital assets to someone other than your children, then you should consider whether you should file for a divorce. Once divorced you will have control of 50% of the marital assets,or the amount provided to you by the court, and will have the ability to pass these assets on to your children upon your death.