ContractsCounsel Logo
Home Types of Contracts Marital Trust

Marital Trust

Jump to Section

A marital trust is a legal arrangement used in estate planning to provide financial protection and benefits for a surviving spouse after the death of a grantor. It helps ensure that assets are preserved and managed for the surviving spouse's benefit and estate tax benefits. Let us learn more about the important aspects of marital trust below.

How a Marital Trust Works

A marital trust is important to ensure that a spouse gets all the required financial arrangements after the demise of the partner. Here is how marital trust typically works in countries like the United States:

  • Creation: A marital trust is typically established as part of an estate plan, often through a will or a revocable living trust. The grantor designates the trust as the recipient of specific assets upon their death.
  • Funding: The grantor transfers assets into the marital trust. The trust becomes the legal owner of these assets. Moreover, such assets are managed according to the trust's provisions.
  • Trust Terms and Conditions: The trust document specifies the terms that govern the trust's operations. It outlines how income and principal will be distributed and managed during the surviving spouse's lifetime.
  • Income and Principal: The surviving spouse is entitled to receive income generated by the trust's assets during their lifetime. This income can come from interest, dividends, or business profits. The trust document may also allow the surviving spouse to access the principal for specific purposes, such as healthcare, education, or living expenses.
  • Duration and Final Distribution: The marital trust can continue for the lifetime of the surviving spouse. It may also continue for a specified period outlined in the trust document. The remaining assets in the trust are distributed according to the grantor's wishes. This process happens upon the surviving spouse's death. These beneficiaries could include children, grandchildren, or other individuals too.

Essential Considerations for a Marital Trust

Several important considerations must come to mind when establishing a marital trust. These factors will help ensure that the trust aligns with specific goals and circumstances. Here are some key considerations for marital trust:

  • Estate Tax Planning: One primary purpose of a marital trust is to take advantage of the marital deduction for estate tax purposes. The marital deduction allows assets to pass to the surviving spouse tax-free, effectively postponing estate taxes until the surviving spouse's passing. An experienced estate planning attorney or tax professional can help understand the potential estate tax implications. They can also ensure the trust is structured appropriately to maximize tax benefits.
  • Trust Terms and Distribution: Clearly define the terms and conditions of the marital trust. Determine the distribution of income and principal to the surviving spouse during their lifetime. Consider the surviving spouse's financial needs and long-term goals. Additionally, establish guidelines for the final distribution of trust assets upon the surviving spouse's death. This can involve specifying beneficiaries, such as children, grandchildren, or charitable organizations, and the proportions in which the assets will be distributed.
  • Asset Protection: A marital trust can provide asset protection for the surviving spouse. Placing assets within the trust may be shielded from potential creditors, lawsuits, or other financial risks. This protection ensures that the trust assets remain available for the support and well-being of the surviving spouse throughout their lifetime.
  • Trustee Selection: Selecting a trustee is important when establishing a marital trust. The trustee is the one who manages the trust assets and carries out the trust's terms. Consider appointing a trustee who is knowledgeable in trust administration, financially competent, and impartial.
  • Flexibility and Amendment: Consider including provisions in the trust that allow for flexibility and amendments. Life circumstances and family dynamics can change over time, so having the ability to modify the trust if necessary can be valuable. Including provisions for amendment or the ability to create additional trusts, such as a power of appointment trust, can provide flexibility to adapt to future changes.
Meet some lawyers on our platform

Sarah S.

35 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Ryenne S.

671 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Zachary J.

387 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Daniel R.

151 projects on CC
CC verified
View Profile

Steps to Engage a Lawyer for a Marital Trust

It is advisable to approach a lawyer specializing in estate planning and marital trusts when seeking assistance with the same. Consider the following steps when approaching the professional for marital trust guidance:

  1. Conduct Research. Conduct research to identify reputable estate planning lawyers in the area who have expertise in marital trusts. Seek recommendations from friends, family, or financial advisors familiar with estate planning attorneys. Online directories and professional organizations, such as the American Bar Association, can provide valuable resources.
  2. Schedule a Consultation. Schedule an initial consultation with the selected estate planning lawyers. Many lawyers offer free or low-cost consultations to discuss needs and assess compatibility. Utilize this opportunity to inquire about their experience, qualifications, and approach to estate planning.
  3. Prepare Relevant Information. Gather necessary information and documents related to assets, financial situation, and estate planning goals. This may include details about property, investments, insurance policies, retirement accounts, and any existing wills or trusts. Providing this information will assist the lawyer in evaluating needs effectively.
  4. Communicate Objectives. Clearly communicate estate planning objectives during the consultation, including the reasons for considering a marital trust. Share intentions for asset protection, estate tax planning, and the distribution of assets to a surviving spouse and other beneficiaries. The lawyer can provide guidance based on specific circumstances and explain the benefits and implications of marital trust.
  5. Inquire about the Lawyer. Inquire about the lawyer's experience in creating marital trusts and their understanding of estate planning laws. Ask about their track record in handling similar cases and any relevant certifications or specializations. Working with a knowledgeable professional ensures that the marital trust aligns with intended objectives and complies with legal requirements.
  6. Discuss Fee Structure and Engagement. Discuss the lawyer's fee structure during the initial consultation. Understand how they bill for services, whether it is a flat fee, hourly rate, or a combination. Clarify any additional costs, such as filing fees or document preparation charges. If satisfied with the lawyer's expertise, inquire about engaging their services and the subsequent steps involved.

Key Terms for Marital Trusts

  • Marital Deduction: A tax provision that allows the transfer of assets to a surviving spouse without incurring estate or gift taxes.
  • Surviving Spouse: The husband or wife who outlives their partner and becomes the beneficiary of the marital trust.
  • QTIP Trust: Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trust, which provides income for a surviving spouse while preserving assets for other beneficiaries upon their passing.
  • Estate Tax Planning: Strategies implemented to minimize estate taxes, including the utilization of marital trusts.
  • Spousal Lifetime Access Trust (SLAT): A trust established by one spouse to benefit the other, providing asset protection and potential estate tax advantages.

Final Thoughts on Marital Trusts

A Marital trust is a powerful tool in estate planning that offers numerous benefits for couples seeking to protect and distribute their assets. It allows for the seamless transfer of wealth between spouses, provides asset protection, and can help minimize estate taxes. By establishing a marital trust, couples can ensure that their surviving spouse is financially supported during their lifetime while preserving assets for future generations. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is necessary to tailor the marital trust to individual needs and ensure compliance with legal requirements. A marital trust can provide peace of mind and secure the financial well-being of both spouses and their loved ones with careful consideration and professional guidance.

If you want free pricing proposals from vetted lawyers that are 60% less than typical law firms, click here to get started. By comparing multiple proposals for free, you can save the time and stress of finding a quality lawyer for your business needs.

ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Marital Trust Lawyers

Michael B. on ContractsCounsel
View Michael
4.9 (15)
Member Since:
October 30, 2020

Michael B.

Free Consultation
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL, MN, WI
University of the Pacific

Michael has extensive experience advising companies from start-ups to established publicly-traded companies . He has represented businesses in a wide array of fields IT consulting, software solutions, web design/ development, financial services, SaaS, data storage, and others. Areas of expertise include contract drafting and negotiation, terms of use, business structuring and funding, company and employee policies, general transactional issues as well as licensing and regulatory compliance. His prior experience before entering private practice includes negotiating sales contracts for a Fortune 500 healthcare company, as well as regulatory compliance contracts for a publicly traded dental manufacturer. Mr. Brennan firmly believes that every business deserves a lawyer that is both responsive and dependable, and he strives to provide that type of service to every client.

George O. on ContractsCounsel
View George
4.9 (5)
Member Since:
November 2, 2020

George O.

Managing Attorney
Free Consultation
Houston, Texas
17 Yrs Experience
Licensed in TX
South Texas College of Law

George Oggero is a down-to-earth lawyer who understands that his clients are human beings. He is a lifelong Houston resident. He graduated from St. Thomas High School and then Texas A&M University. He obtained his Doctor of Jurisprudence from South Texas College of Law in 2007. He is experienced in real estate, criminal defense, civil/commercial matters, personal, injury, business matters, general counsel on-demand, and litigation.

Ramsey T. on ContractsCounsel
View Ramsey
4.9 (5)
Member Since:
November 3, 2020

Ramsey T.

Founding Partner
Free Consultation
New York
27 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
William and Mary

My clients are often small and medium size technology companies, from the "idea" stage to clients who may have raised a round or three of capital and need to clean up a messy cap table. I help with all legal matters related to growth that keep founders up at night - hiring people, allocating equity, dealing with shareholders and investors, client negotiations and early litigation counseling (before you need a litigator). I've seen a lot, and because I run my own business, I understand the concerns that keep you up at night. I’ve been through, both on my own and through other clients, the “teething” pains that will inevitably arise as you scale-up – and I’m here to help you. I have over 20 years international experience devising and implementing robust corporate legal strategies and governance for large multinationals. I now focus on start-ups and early/medium stage technology companies to enable a sound legal foundation for your successful business operations. Many of my clients are international with US based holding companies or presences. My 17 years abroad helps me "translate" between different regimes and even enabling Civil and Common Law lawyers to come together. Regularly, I handle early stage financings including Convertible Notes, Seed and Series A/B financings; commercial and technology contracts; international transactions; tax; mergers and acquisitions.

Ross F. on ContractsCounsel
View Ross
Member Since:
October 27, 2020

Ross F.

Managing Partner
Free Consultation
Bedford, New Hampshire
13 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MA, NH
University of Arizona

I am an experienced technology contracts counsel that has worked with companies that are one-person startups, publicly-traded international corporations, and every size in between. I believe legal counsel should act as a seatbelt and an airbag, not a brake pedal!

John H. on ContractsCounsel
View John
Member Since:
November 11, 2020

John H.

Free Consultation
Mobile, AL
13 Yrs Experience
Licensed in AL
Thomas Goode Jones School of Law

John Daniel "J.D." Hawke is an experienced attorney with a law practice in Mobile, Alabama. He was born in Fairhope, Alabama and after earning his undergraduate degree at Auburn University, he received a law degree from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in 2010. After law school, he formed the Law Office of J.D. Hawke LLC and over the last decade he has fought incredibly hard for each and everyone of his clients. His practice focuses on representing people facing criminal charges and clients dealing with family law matters. In addition to criminal defense and domestic relations cases, he also regularly handles contract disputes, personal injury cases, small business issues, landlord/tenant disputes, document drafting, and estate planning. He is licensed to practice law in the State of Alabama and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.

Thomas C. on ContractsCounsel
View Thomas
Member Since:
October 30, 2020

Thomas C.

Free Consultation
Denver, CO
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CO
University of Colorado Law School

Thomas Codevilla is Partner at SK&S Law Group where he focuses on Data Privacy, Security, Commercial Contracts, Corporate Finance, and Intellectual Property. Read more at Thomas’s clients range from startups to large enterprises. He specializes in working with businesses to build risk-based data privacy and security systems from the ground up. He has deep experience in GDPR, CCPA, COPPA, FERPA, CALOPPA, and other state privacy laws. He holds the CIPP/US and CIPP/E designations from the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Alongside his privacy practice he brings a decade of public and private transactional experience, including formations, financings, M&A, corporate governance, securities, intellectual property licensing, manufacturing, regulatory compliance, international distribution, China contracts, and software-as-a-service agreements.

Lyndsey G. on ContractsCounsel
View Lyndsey
Member Since:
October 30, 2020

Lyndsey G.

Free Consultation
Roseville, MN
10 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MN
Mitchell Hamline College of Law

Attorney of 6 years with experience evaluating and drafting contracts, formation document, and policies and procedures in multiple industries. Expanded to estate planning last year.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Quick, user friendly and one of the better ways I've come across to get ahold of lawyers willing to take new clients.

View Trustpilot Review

How It Works

Post Your Project

Get Free Bids to Compare

Hire Your Lawyer

Family lawyers by top cities
See All Family Lawyers
Marital Trust lawyers by city
See All Marital Trust Lawyers

Contracts Counsel was incredibly helpful and easy to use. I submitted a project for a lawyer's help within a day I had received over 6 proposals from qualified lawyers. I submitted a bid that works best for my business and we went forward with the project.

View Trustpilot Review

I never knew how difficult it was to obtain representation or a lawyer, and ContractsCounsel was EXACTLY the type of service I was hoping for when I was in a pinch. Working with their service was efficient, effective and made me feel in control. Thank you so much and should I ever need attorney services down the road, I'll certainly be a repeat customer.

View Trustpilot Review

I got 5 bids within 24h of posting my project. I choose the person who provided the most detailed and relevant intro letter, highlighting their experience relevant to my project. I am very satisfied with the outcome and quality of the two agreements that were produced, they actually far exceed my expectations.

View Trustpilot Review

How It Works

Post Your Project

Get Free Bids to Compare

Hire Your Lawyer

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call

Find lawyers and attorneys by city