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Does a beneficiary of a RLT have any privacy rights as to the value of their inheritance in an alimony mediation?

Bloomfield Hills, MI |

The ex-husband is trying to force ex-wife to divulge the inheritance she received years after the divorce was finalized. He pays alimony and wants to use this information to either reduce his obligation to her and to avoid paying her attorney fees. Additionally, the estate was divided equally among the ex-wife's siblings, therefore, their inheritance will be revealed without their permission. Do third parties have a right to privacy in this situation?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    In short to answer your question, I would say the 3rd parties have a right to privacy that a judge can divulge. Both of the previous answers are correct. Is there a right of privacy? Yes, that is one of the benefits of a trust. Can a court order the information to be divulged? Yes.

    To answer your questions completely an attorney should review the language of the RLT. You can argue that the inheritance was not a marital asset therefore need not be disclosed as it was inherited after the divorce. However, depending on the amount of income you are receiving from the trust it is quite likely that a judge will order the inheritance to be revealed.

    It is well settled in Michigan that trusts (even those with spendthrift provisions) are subject to claims for child support and alimony. From a public policy standpoint, it would not make sense to have trust assets be discoverable in order to pay alimony; but, not be discoverable to show a change in circumstances.

    remember, it is on the Petitioner to show a change in circumstances and all facts and circumstances will be taken into consideration when the judge makes a ruling.


  2. Easiest course of action may be to wait until your ex-husband goes to court to attempt to force the information out of you. At that point, you or your lawyer can file an appropriate pleading arguing that the inheritance was not a marital asset therefore need not be disclosed.

    I am licensed to practice law in Michigan and Virginia and regularly handle cases of this sort. My answering your question does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should consult a lawyer so you can tell the lawyer the entire situation and get legal advice that is precisely tailored to your case.


  3. I agree with Mr. Conway. Yes, there is generally a right of privacy, but you can still be ordered by a court to divulge this information. If this is a significant issue, then you should hire an attorney to assist you.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!

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