Trusts: Treatment and Use during Marital Dissolutions in Florida by Dylan Stone, CPA, CVA

Posted on September 18, 2023 by Dylan Stone

Individuals and couples often establish trusts as a component of greater estate planning strategies to shield assets from creditors. However, if a couple decides to divorce, many questions can arise over whether the trusts also shield one party from support obligations and whether the trust assets are subject to equitable distribution. While these questions are ultimately determined by the trier of fact, the short answer is: It depends! Specifically, the court must understand the type of trust that was established, why and when it was created, by whom and for what reasons.

Equitable distribution of property in a divorce in Florida does not mean equal (50/50). Rather, Florida courts consider a variety of factors to ensure that marital assets are split fairly. In other words, while a trust may be classified as marital property, the courts may award all of it to one spouse in an effort to balance out the property division process. For example, if a wife gets the marital home, the husband may be awarded the trust and the automobile.

Deciding whether a trust is marital property, the value of the underlying assets and how it should be divided often requires collaboration between experienced forensic accountants and attorneys who bring rich skill sets to bear. During the fact collection, inquiry may target transactional, contractual and regulatory aspects of a situation. Berkowitz Pollack Brant’s Forensic Advisory Services team has demonstrated expertise in this area of marital law.

About the Author: Dylan Stone, CPA, CVA, is a senior manager with the Forensic and Advisory Services practice of Berkowitz Pollack Brant, where he works on a variety of family law disputes and provides business valuation services for estate and gift taxation, divorce and litigation-related matters. He can be reached at the CPA firm’s Boca Raton, Fla., office at (561) 361-2000 or