You bring your children into the world with love. You raise them with love, caring and concern. Why should anything be different even if you are no longer here? If you’re concerned about leaving your belongings to them safely, responsibly and meaningfully, you should create an estate plan to pass on your legacy of love as well as your assets. But, if your plan simply leaves what you have outright and directly to your children, you may be leaving behind a different type of legacy, the outcome of which is contrary to your views as a parent.
A trust is a must if you’re looking for true protection when passing on assets, particularly to children. Just as you protect your children from harm while you raise them, you can also protect them from any threat that could come from irresponsible behavior or external risk. The safest choice is to place the inheritance in a trust.
Trusts can be designed to protect assets from things like bankruptcy, creditors, lawsuits and even divorce or second marriages. It’s rare to find someone whose life is free from mistakes or mishaps. However, that shouldn’t have to cost them their inheritance. If your child has a marriage that dissolves, for example, their future inheritance can be safely tucked into a Trust, separating those assets from marital property and rendering them untouchable by an ex-spouse.
You can also set up a trust to distribute an inheritance according to your own wishes and for specific purposes, such as education, starting a business, maintaining a family vacation home, or whatever will benefit your children the most.
Gifting a large sum of cash to an 18- or 21-year-old is not usually considered best practices. Many parents leaving assets in Trust choose to stagger distributions at certain age milestones, which helps children learn to manage their assets over time with the help of a trustee. Then, at a later age, the child can become the trustee with full control when they have the knowledge to make better financial decisions.
If your child is still a minor or has special needs, a trust is even more critical. Under the law, minors cannot inherit outright, so a Trust is necessary to safeguard the assets for their benefit until they reach the age of maturity. The Trust preserves assets for their benefit, names a Trustee to oversee distributions, and does not disqualify them from receiving special government benefits like an outright inheritance would.
The information in this article is intended solely for your information. It does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied on without a discussion of your specific situation with an attorney.