ContractsCounsel Logo

Marital Trust

Clients Rate Lawyers on our Platform 4.9/5 Stars
based on 7,503 reviews

Jump to Section

Need help with a Marital Trust?

Post Project Now

Post Your Project (It's Free)

Get Bids to Compare

 Hire Your Lawyer

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

Scott S.

41 projects on CC
View Profile

Zachary J.

182 projects on CC
View Profile

Emmanuel K.

1 project on CC
View Profile

Ryenne S.

434 projects on CC
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.

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

Howard B. on ContractsCounsel
View Howard
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
July 29, 2022

Howard B.

Managing Member
Free Consultation
Tulsa, Ok
10 Yrs Experience
Licensed in OK
University of Tulsa

Berkson is a dedicated, practical, and detail-oriented attorney licensed to practice in every state court of Oklahoma and the United States Northern and Eastern District Courts. He graduated from the University of Tulsa College of Law with Honors. While there, he received awards for highest grade in trial practice, legal research, and civil procedure. He was also the Executive Notes and Comments Editor for the Energy Law Journal, the official journal of the Energy Bar Association in Washington, D.C. The Energy Law Journal is one of the few peer-reviewed journals in the legal profession. Prior to becoming an attorney, Howard Berkson held executive positions involving a wide range of business and human resources management functions. He has in-depth knowledge of both business and HR practices. During his business career, Berkson negotiated, wrote, red-lined, and disputed contracts. He has answered charges, handled inspections, and supervised audits involving numerous agencies including the Department of Labor, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and various state agencies. Berkson honed his analytical and writing skills while earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Washington. He went on to obtain a Master of Arts in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois. Berkson’s work can be found in such publications as The Energy Law Journal, Human Resource Management Review and Personnel Psychology. He is a member of Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity and of Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Erik D. on ContractsCounsel
View Erik
5.0 (20)
Member Since:
July 31, 2022

Erik D.

Free Consultation
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
Stetson University College of Law

Erik has been a practicing attorney in Florida for over a decade. He specializes in employment and real estate contracts. He has represented clients big and small and can assist with any contract issue.

Travis D. on ContractsCounsel
View Travis
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
August 8, 2022

Travis D.

Free Consultation
Norman, OK
3 Yrs Experience
Licensed in OK
University of Oklahoma

Travis counsels individuals and businesses on a broad range of complex topics. His practice centers on producing efficient, client-driven results. He concentrates his practice on real estate, construction, and general business matters with an emphasis on assisting clients both before and after problems occur by drafting contracts designed to best position clients to avoid disputes and litigating matters to a final resolution if problems emerge. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Travis is a triple graduate of the University of Oklahoma, having obtained his Bachelor of Arts, Master of Business Administration, and Juris Doctor degrees from OU. Prior to practicing law, Travis managed the finances and business operations of a successful construction supply company for several years. This insight into sophisticated business dealings, contractual issues, and strategic planning makes him uniquely qualified to handle a wide range of legal matters. Travis lives in Norman with his wife, Haley, dogs, Walter and Poppy, and cat, Ernest. Outside of the office, Travis enjoys playing golf and reading.

Domonick G. on ContractsCounsel
View Domonick
3.1 (7)
Member Since:
August 1, 2022

Domonick G.

Free Consultation
2 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MO, TX
Thurgood Marshall School of law

I am a licensed attorney who specializes in business law, personal injury and contracts.

Deborah W. on ContractsCounsel
View Deborah
Member Since:
September 4, 2022

Deborah W.

Managing Partner
Free Consultation
26 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MI
Michigan State University College of Law

Williamson Health Law is an established and trusted law firm focused on representing hospitals, health plans, physician groups, physicians, physical therapy businesses, psychologists and other health care providers and businesses in all aspects of health law. including the Stark law, the Anti-Kickback Statute (“AKS”), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), regulatory compliance, Medicare and Blue Cross audits and overpayment appeals, payer departicipation and disaffiliation appeals, payer and provider disputes, reimbursement and billing, compliance plans, health care industry contracts and professional licensure. We represent clients throughout Michigan and the U.S. with certain federal matters such as federal regulatory analysis and Medicare audits.

Bolaji O. on ContractsCounsel
View Bolaji
Member Since:
August 9, 2022

Bolaji O.

Princial Attorney
Free Consultation
New York
4 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Texas Souther University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Bolaji O. Okunnu is an entertainment lawyer and founder of the Okunnu Law Group, PLLC based in New York, New York. His practice includes work in the area of copyright, trademark, contract, intellectual property and business law. As an entertainment attorney, Bolaji represents a diverse roster of celebrities, record labels, music publishers, artists, bands, entrepreneurs, authors, songwriters, artist managers, record producers and entertainment executives concerning their intellectual property, business affairs and creative assets. He is an expert at solving complex and sophisticated legal and business issues relating to contracts, copyrights and trademarks. With his background in both the law and the music business, he brings a broad perspective to problem-solving and business plan strategies. He also has an extraordinary ability to speak to the hearts of creatives while helping them discover their voice and clarify their creative dreams and assignments.

Matt M. on ContractsCounsel
View Matt
Member Since:
August 16, 2022

Matt M.

Free Consultation
Orem, Utah
16 Yrs Experience
Licensed in UT
Washington & Lee University

I love to learn, and I love solving problems. That's why I became a lawyer, and learned to solve legal problems for individuals and businesses and help them fix things when there's a snag. Touch base if you think I could have something to offer for you or your company. Experienced, results-oriented legal professional whose background and education have established him as a valuable resource in areas of corporate law, franchising, litigation, compliance, mortgages and banking, and more. Practice Areas Include: Corporate law, Franchising, Litigation, real estate, corporate law, civil disputes, insurance representation, corporate counseling, dispute resolution, risk management, regulatory counsel, compliance. Experience involves sophisticated as well as routine corporate structuring and transactions, simple and complex litigation, and written and oral advocacy such as depositions, mediated settlement conferences, trials, appeals, written pleadings and discovery, and case strategy and analysis. Experience managing and litigating disputes between parties and negotiating settlements across the spectrum of civil litigation, including probative discovery, successful motions practice, legal research and writing, appellate practice, and legal consultation to individuals and business entities. Further experience includes digesting and monitoring updates to the legal landscape to advise clients or departments and successfully adapt policies and procedures to assure compliance with applicable laws and regulations as well as to manage risk effectively. For those needing a skilled commercial or corporate lawyer, or for individuals whose rights need persuasive advocacy, I am a valuable resource. Representative work also has involved success on the appellate level, as in Baker Construction Company, Inc. v. City of Burlington and Hawthorne, LLC, North Carolina COA09-13.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now
Marital Trust lawyers by city
See All Marital Trust Lawyers
related contracts
See More Contracts
other helpful articles

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