Can I Set Up a Trust Without My Spouse in California?

Setting up a trust can be an efficient way to shield assets, avoid probate, or keep separate property apart from marital funds. But can you establish a trust in a way that doesn’t give your spouse interest in the trust property?

The short answer to “Can I set up a trust without my spouse?” is yes. However, you should consult a trust attorney in Santa Rosa, CA, to ensure your trust is legally valid and not vulnerable to claims. 

Why Set Up a Trust That Doesn’t Involve Your Spouse?

Creating a trust separately from your spouse can make sense in many situations, such as:

  • You acquired considerable assets before your marriage and want to ensure these assets stay separate
  • You need to secure an inheritance for your children from a previous marriage
  • You collect an inheritance or a sizable gift from your family and choose to keep it apart from marital assets
  • You build a business using separate funds and want to protect it in case of a divorce 

Setting up a trust in your name only can avoid major disputes if a marriage falls apart. It can also be useful to shield assets from creditors and protect your spouse from potential claims. 

Property You Can Place in a Separate Trust 

The proper response to “Can I set up a trust without my spouse?” is “Yes, but your spouse will have interest in the trust if it includes marital property.”

In California, any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage generally counts as community property and is subject to division during divorce. Placing assets in a trust to exclude them from property division is an illegitimate tactic. 

However, your estate plan could include a trust that holds any separate assets, such as the following:

  • Property you acquired before the marriage
  • Assets you inherited or gifts you received during the marriage
  • Income or investments you purchased with separate funds
  • A business you established using separate property
  • Any assets a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement defines as separate

Remember that to keep assets separate, you must avoid mixing them with marital assets. For instance, if you receive an inheritance, you must place it in a designated account rather than the joint account you hold with your spouse.

Do You Need Your Spouse’s Consent To Set Up a Trust?

Technically, if you follow California trust laws and only place separate property in a trust, you can create one without your spouse’s consent or knowledge. However, if you can procure your spouse’s written agreement to place assets in a trust, this can help avoid any claims or disputes if your marriage ends in divorce. 

Planning To Create a Trust? Contact the Law Office of Charles D. Stark 

If you’re asking, “Can I set up a trust without my spouse?” contact our legal team at the Law Office of Charles D. Stark. We can help you establish an irrevocable or revocable trust and shield your assets while complying with the law.

Call 707-527-9900 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.

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