In a West Virginia divorce, spouses are required to disclose their full assets in order to divide the marital estate. There is always a risk that one or both spouses will try to hide their property in order to avoid having to divide it. There is a jurisdiction in the U.S. that has become a haven for people hiding assets where they are not breaking laws in that state.
A recent billionaire divorce has made it apparent that South Dakota has become the domestic home to people looking to should assets in a trust. The laws of the state are very generous in terms of the protection that they provide to the trust. Here, Ed Bosarge created numerous trusts in the state. He then changed the beneficiary to someone other than his wife but was not obligated by law to inform her. After he informed her of divorce by mail, she then learned that most of his assets were in South Dakota and were not touchable.
Not only are high net worth spouses stashing money in South Dakota, but foreign billionaires are also taking advantage of the state’s laws to keep money there and away from their governments. Nobody really knows how much money is being kept in South Dakota trusts, but there are high estimates that reach close to $1 trillion.
In a divorce, spouses need to be vigilant about finding assets, especially when the couple is wealthy. In Ed Bosarge’s case, his wife has vigilantly tried to track down his assets, although she has had difficulty with South Dakota laws. A divorce attorney may help fight in court to repatriate assets that have been moved and to get extensive discovery to find evidence of hidden assets. Outside of that, it is very difficult to catch a spouse in the act of hiding assets.