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  • Writer's pictureJudge Michael Donio

Ask the Judge: How wealthy do you need to be in order to have a trust?

How wealthy do you need to be in order to have a trust?

In a word, you don’t need to be wealthy at all to have a trust.

An example would be in your will if you are perhaps a young couple with a very young child; you may say in your will that everything would go to your spouse after your death.

However, in the circumstance where you and your spouse, for example may die tragically together, the will would basically then leave everything for your minor child.

Since your child is a minor, you would have a trust setup for that purpose.

Therefore, that trust would either have very little money, a fair amount of money or large amount of money in the trust. However, a trust would be necessary, and you must name a trustee to manage that trust on behalf of the minor.

That is one example that I can give you were a trust can be set up with very little money but where a trust is absolutely necessary. Therefore, all people especially married people with children in my view must have a will and make provision for minor children in that will in the event of a loss of one or both parents. I hope that answers your question.

How is alimony determined?

There are many factors that go into alimony.

The Alimony Law was changed several years ago that made alimony a bit more up to date compared with other states and allowed for a review of that with changes to certain circumstances.

However, by way of a checklist here are just some of the things that go into account in determining the amount of alimony.

1. The duration of the marriage.

2. The lifestyle that was set and accustomed by both parties.

3. The earning ability in the past and going forward into the future of both parties.

4. Was one of the parties a homemaker that stayed home and took care of the children that allowed the other party to have a successful career?

5. The age and health of the parties at the time of the divorce.

6. If someone has not worked for a number of years, are they able to go back into the workforce and what type of money are they able to earn?

Those are some of the most important things that a court will take into account in determining a level of alimony.

Please don’t confuse alimony with child support, they are separate and distinct.

Child support is always modifiable as things change between the parties and normally runs until a child is emancipated, which means basically out of college and on their own.

The one thing in going through a divorce where there are high income parties, real estate assets and a lot of other assets is that you absolutely need a lawyer to guide you through this process.

Judge Michael Donio served as a New Jersey State Superior Court Judge for 20 years before retiring on July 31, 2015. He now operates a legal consulting and mediation firm on the White Horse Pike. Donio can be reached by calling (609) 481-2919. Send your questions for his columns to


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