Consider the average 18-year-old, suddenly inheriting a million or even a few hundred thousand dollars. Would you have been ready for that? That’s just one reason why basic wills aren’t the best estate plan for parents with young children.
Most millennials are minimalists. They like to keep things simple. Thumbs down to their grandmother’s silver serving pieces or Lalique porcelain collection. Thumbs up to cash, jewelry and art. However, that approach can lead to problems, when it comes to estate planning. If they are newly married and under the current estate tax threshold, a simple will might be okay. However, once they have children, more estate planning strategies, including trusts, need to be considered.
Forbes’s recent article, “Why A Simple Will Won't Cut It If You Have Young Children,” explains that without a trust, minor children inherit assets outright when they turn 18. That may be a problem, if children are apt to blow through their inheritance in a few years, instead of using the money wisely.
An inheritance could last a lifetime, if the beneficiary lives within her means, doesn’t tap into the principal and works to help support her lifestyle and supplement her income. However, this isn’t always the case, and individuals with access to so much cash are often vulnerable to developing addictions.
A trustee can make certain that your children and young adults are cared for over the long-term. If you’re not alive to guide and direct your children, a trust can set the necessary limitations for their finances. The trustee can help with your children’s financial literacy, so they’ll possess tools, if and when they’re given additional responsibility for their inherited assets.
This isn’t just for minor children who are under 18 years old, but also for young adults. The fact that a child is “legal” in the eyes of the law, doesn’t mean she’s responsible enough to invest a million-dollar inheritance. A trust sets up an experienced advisor to manage inherited assets along the way.
One option, when they’re mature enough, is to set up the trust, so they will become a co-trustee. This lets them have a say with the trustee and to make decisions about the management of the trust assets. Your trust can also give them access to distributions of principal slowly over time, so they get used to managing large sums of money.
Simple solutions can work for some people, and there are definitely situations in which a simple will is appropriate. But if you have minor children, you don’t want to allow them to let them inherit money at 18.
Talk with an estate planning attorney about your family, your finances and how a trust can work to everyone’s benefit in the short and long term.
Reference: Forbes (July 12, 2019) “Why A Simple Will Won't Cut It If You Have Young Children”