How can an 81-year-old Texas billionaire claim that he’s worth a paltry $25 million when it comes time to get a divorce (or fend off both the IRS and his former business partner’s lawsuit)?
Through the time-honored method of hiding his assets in any way that he can. The divorce of billionaire Ed Bosarge and his 66-year-old wife, Marie, has brought a lot of attention to the fact that it’s increasingly easier for financially savvy spouses to keep their money and assets in a split — no matter what the community property laws of Texas dictate.
Here are the top three ways that the wealthy stash their cash:
Sending money overseas to sympathetic nations where it’s out of reach of creditors of any kind has long been a favored way of hiding money by the uber-wealthy. These overseas tax shelters, however, have been facing more threats in recent years from the U.S. tax authorities, so that has spurred many people of means to look elsewhere for havens.
Domestic asset protection trusts (DAPTs)
Instead of sending their money overseas, a lot of wealthy people find it more convenient to keep their money in this country — albeit in a state that offers iron-clad protection for trusts from creditors. In this case, the Texas billionaire admits that he’s the beneficiary of two trusts in South Dakota that hold $800 million in assets and $280 million in cash.
This essentially involves bleeding dry a traditional trust that would be subject to claims in a divorce (or otherwise) and moving the money into a trust that can’t. It’s generally used in conjunction with either offshore accounts or DAPTs — and it’s a slick way to clean out the marital coffers without a spouse noticing.
This case — which is heading for trial — is creating a big stir in Texas, but it has a lot of implications no matter where you live. How it plays out in court could have significant consequences for others in the future. If you’re heading for a complicated, high-asset divorce, make sure that you learn everything you can about your rights to fair compensation.