Florida residents in the midst of divorce always face the risk that their spouse may try to siphon assets from the marital estate and hide them from the court. Spouses who are trying to hide assets have a powerful legal ally in trust laws in South Dakota that give virtually unlimited protection to assets in the state.

South Dakota law allows for the creation of trusts that are almost on par with what people would find in overseas jurisdictions like the Cook Islands or Switzerland. Foreign tycoons have taken notice, and it is not uncommon for oligarchs and billionaires to create trusts in the state to shield money from their own governments. There are estimates that there could be just shy of $1 trillion sitting in South Dakota trusts.

An American billionaire moved most of his money to South Dakota. He then switched the beneficiary of the trusts away from his wife. However, due to the protections that he was given under the state’s laws, he did not even have to tell her. Later, he decided to divorce his wife, a decision that he informed her about by registered mail. Since she is not the beneficiary of the trust and the trust is impenetrable, she cannot receive any money from it in the divorce. A multi-billion-dollar estate has been reduced to $12 million.

Those who suspect that their spouse has been hiding assets in the divorce may want to consult with a divorce attorney. The attorney may have to be aggressive in investigating the money trail to find where these assets have gone. Individuals should not that courts do not like it when a spouse is trying to hide assets. The court may take steps to punish the spouse who is engaging in that type of behavior.