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Securing Payment of Child Support with a Children’s Safe Harbor Trust

By: Phillip B. Rarick, Esq.

Most divorce judgments call for one of the parties to obtain a life insurance policy to secure the payment of child support, alimony or some other financial obligation.  Let’s assume the obligation is solely child support:  a potential mistake is failure to secure payment of the policy premiums by use of an irrevocable Children’s Safe Harbor Trust structured as a spendthrift trust.

For securing the payment of child support, the settlement agreement should have specific language that may read as follows:

Larry shall establish an Irrevocable Children’s Safe Harbor Trust (“Trust”) to secure the payment of his child support and other financial obligations set forth herein.   Within 10 days of execution of this Agreement, Larry shall transfer sufficient funds to the trustee of the Trust to purchase a term life insurance policy with a face value of $750,000 for a term of 10 years.  The Trust shall be the owner and sole beneficiary of the insurance policy. The initial trustee of the Trust shall be [CPA, attorney, or independent third party].   The sole beneficiaries of the Trust shall be the children named herein.  Said Trust shall be structured to (a) provide for the education, health, maintenance, support, and best interests of the children; (b) to protect the proceeds from creditor claims of Larry, the wife, or the children; and (c) comply with all of Larry’s financial obligations to the children as set forth in this Agreement.  [Said Trust is attached hereto and fully incorporated herein.]

The Safe Harbor Children’s Trust could help insure that the policy does not lapse if Larry does not have sufficient funds to purchase the policy outright, but rather needs to pay on a monthly schedule. If a premium payment schedule is needed, it would be wise to have Larry prepay at least 3 months of premium in advance to the Trustee.  The trustee would be required to notify the wife if funds for payment of the premium fall below a required minimum balance.

Such monies would be held by the Trustee to cover non-payment and give the wife time to compel the Husband to make payments.  An alternative would be to purchase a life policy with the premiums guaranteed.

Note:  Larry would want the trust structured to maximize his annual gift tax exclusion of $14,000 per beneficiary.  This is accomplished in the trust terms by use of what is known as “Crummey Powers”.    Using such powers and assuming Larry has three children, he could annually transfer tax free $42,000 and not be required to file a Form 709 gift tax return.

How We Can Help

The primary focus of Rarick & Beskin is trusts of all kinds and estate tax planning.   As Miami trust attorneys, we have many years of experience in working with family law attorneys.  We are available to consult with you and welcome any questions or comments.  For more information, contact Phil Rarick at (305) 556-5209 or info@raricklaw.com.

Special Note

The information on this blog is of a general nature and is not intended to answer any individual’s legal questions. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. If you have a legal question about your individual facts and circumstances, you should consult an experienced Miami trust attorney. Your receipt of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein.

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