If you are getting divorced, you and your spouse will exchange information about the assets in the marital estate and their valuation. Maryland courts expect that when you inform your spouse about your assets, you will give a full and accurate accounting of all of the property. Otherwise, a judge may view secretive behavior harshly. However, the uber-wealthy have a means to legally reduce the size of the marital estate.

South Dakota has permissive trust laws

In one billionaire’s case, he was not even using a loophole. He was availing himself of the laws of one state that has chosen to try to emulate secretive asset havens such as Switzerland. South Dakota law allows for trusts to be formed in the state, and it extends all sorts of legal protections that make the jurisdiction very favorable for the wealthy to shield their money in that state. In exchange, South Dakota receives fees for the trusts.

Man moves billions to South Dakota

One billionaire moved nearly all of his assets to the state, reportedly in anticipation of a future divorce. His wife was aware of some of the extent of the trusts, but she said that he had the money there to avoid paying taxes. However, after he informed her of their impending divorce by registered mail, she was stunned to learn that his transactions had reduced the size of the marital estate to $12 million. She is suing her husband, but she faces daunting odds in her quest to recover some of that money.

If you are in a situation where you and your spouse have assets but you are concerned that your spouse could be hiding or undervaluing them, you may need a divorce attorney on your side to help prevent that from happening. It might be difficult to handle these matters on your own, especially if your spouse has taken extensive measures to hide the money. An attorney may assist you in either tracking down the assets or fighting to have them valued fairly in the divorce agreement or court proceeding.