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Trusts and Divorce: Discovering Hidden Trusts, Reaching Trust Assets, Protecting Beneficiary's Interest

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will prepare family law practitioners with best practices to represent divorcing parties who are interested in or seek to claim an interest in a spouse's trust. The panel will review how to answer the critical question of whether the trust is accessible as well as offer drafting methods to mitigate attacks on trust assets, explain how to attack a trust, discuss available remedies, and outline critical evidentiary issues in establishing a party's interest in the trust as a marital asset.


Trusts present unique challenges when classifying and dividing marital assets in a divorce. Counsel must discover the existence of a spouse's interest, the type of interest, and the value of that interest in the trust.

Many trusts in question will have been created by a third party. But if a couple is getting divorced and has made a trust during the marriage, different issues and potential pitfalls should receive special attention.

Counsel must decide whether to join the trust or trustee as a party to the divorce proceeding. Counsel must also determine when to attack a trust, how to defend a trust, and what remedies are available. From the family law perspective, counsel must address and present critical evidentiary issues.

Listen as our panel of family law and estate law attorneys discusses drafting methods to mitigate attacks on trust assets, discovering the trust and classifying the beneficiary's interest in the trust as marital property, and reaching or protecting the beneficiary's assets. The panel will identify available remedies and outline crucial evidentiary issues.



  1. Types of trusts
  2. Drafting trusts to reduce attacks on trust assets
  3. Discovering trust assets
  4. Classifying the trust interest as marital property
  5. Ways to reach trust assets or protect the beneficiary's assets
  6. Joining the trust or trustee as a party
  7. Key evidentiary issues
  8. Remedies


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are best practices for drafting trusts to protect trust assets in the event of divorce?
  • If the parties transfer marital assets to the trust, do those assets lose their character as marital assets, and are they off-limits in divorce?
  • What can counsel do to discover a party's interest in a trust?
  • What are the methods available to reach a party's interest in the trust and to defend against an attempted attack on the trust?
  • What are the critical evidentiary issues in successfully attacking a trust or defending the trust from attack?


Akhavan, K. Eli
K. Eli Akhavan

Steptoe & Johnson

Mr. Akhavan focuses his practice on tax and estate planning for high-net-worth US and non-US clients. He advises...  |  Read More

Dunbar, Andrea
Andrea T. Dunbar

Burns Levinson

Ms. Dunbar is an attorney in the firm's Private Client group and a member of the Divorce & Family Law,...  |  Read More

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