When it comes to providing for your children in the event of an untimely death, you need to consider more than just who will take care of them until adulthood. The money that you pass to your children through inheritance can become a college education, a debt-free journey into adulthood, or a growing investment for their future. However, the proper steps need to be taken to ensure they receive their full inheritance without delay.
The Importance of Property Management
For a child under the age of 18, a property guardian or property manager will either be appointed in the absence of a will or selected from the instructions in a completed will. Allowing a property guardian to be appointed by the courts can lead to uncertainty and even mismanagement—that’s why it’s critical to name a property guardian in your will.
The individual you name as property guardian will oversee and manage the property in the absence of a trust until your child becomes 18 (or the age dictate by your will).
Establishing a Trust
Each individual child can be granted a trust with oversight from a trustee whom you name. This trustee is required to act in the young beneficiary’s best interest in accordance with your will by making distributions toward health, education, or living expenses.
Furthermore, trusts are protected from anyone who is not the trustee. This can be especially useful in situations where you are concerned that your minor’s inheritance may otherwise be taken advantage of by an ex-spouse, creditor, or family member.
You will also decide when and how distributions are made. For example, if you are uncomfortable leaving a lump sum of money to your 18-year-old, you can dictate that at ages 25, 35, and 40, your beneficiary will receive a selected portion of the inheritance until it is ultimately expended and complete.
The trust can be set up to distribute at any amount or frequency for your child without outside interference. You can even decide what the funds go toward (like a down payment on a home or a college education rather than a vacation or shopping spree).
When choosing a trustee, keep in mind that they must file annual income tax returns in the trust’s name. Because trustee powers vary from trust to trust, the trustee may need to show the will to deal with any relevant financial institutions. These factors make choosing a knowledgeable, reliable trustee critical.
Creating a Pot Trust
A pot trust, or a family trust, is a flexible mechanism for creating a trust involving multiple young children. The trustee is able to decide the financial distribution for each child individually based on need. The trust will dissolve once the youngest child has turned 18.