If you plan on leaving money to minor children in your Last Will and Testament, you’ll have an important issue to consider: Who will be in charge of managing the inheritance and keeping the child’s money safe from being lost or squandered if the parents pass away?
Estate planning is often easier for married couples in this situation. One spouse leaves everything to the other spouse, and the surviving parent will take care of the children. But what happens if something happens to both parents, either at the same time or within a short span of time?
Unfortunately, a Sarasota Will lawyer can tell you that there is no easy answer. Young beneficiaries usually require someone else to be named to manage their inheritance because they are legally unable (as in the case of a minor) or too immature to manage the inheritance themselves.
Parents often will ask the people named as guardians to also take responsibility for their children’s money and property. However, if you do not name anyone to manage finances for your children, the probate court will do it for you by appointing someone – oftentimes a complete stranger – to serve as the children’s financial guardian. The financial guardian selected by the probate court must report frequently and has limited authority to make decisions.
It’s also important to note that, unless otherwise noted, children who are 18 or older will have complete control of the property and money left to them. That being said, you should consider raising the age at which your child gains financial responsibility to age 25 or older. This reduces the risk of your child’s inheritance being mismanaged or lost. In fact, the trust can even be designed to protect your children’s inheritance throughout their lifetimes from divorce, lawsuits, or even a bankruptcy due to job loss or a medical emergency. Yes, you read that correctly, you can even protect the money you leave for you children and grandchildren from divorce, lawsuits, financial mismanagement or other third-party claims.
A Revocable Living Trust is the best way to manage your children’s inheritance so that they do not receive a lump sum of money before they are mature enough to handle it. A Revocable Living Trust allows you to raise the age or lay out key milestones in which the children receive their money. It also allows you to specify a trustee who oversees the distribution of funds to your children according to your wishes for their future and how their inheritance is to be spent.
If you have any questions about naming a person to manage a minor child’s finances, or if you are interested in learning more about setting up a Revocable Living Trust, please give our Sarasota area will lawyers a call at 941-909-4644 to set up a consultation.
If you would like to learn more, you may also be interested in my book, “What Happens to Them, What Every Parent Needs to Know About Estate Planning” where we cover this and even more planning tips and strategies parents need to know. You can get your own copy for Free by Clicking Here.