Do you worry what your children (or heirs) will do to your estate after you have passed on? Perhaps the question would be more accurate if phrased, Do you worry what your estate will do to your heirs? Warren Buffett once said, “I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing.” Even if your estate isn’t quite as robust as Mr. Buffett’s, you may have concerns about how your heirs and your estate will get along. You aren’t alone. According to a U.S. trust study, 60 percent of parents believe that their children are not well prepared to handle a financial inheritance.
What should you do in order to protect your heirs and your estate? The Fiscal Times recommends a trust. A trust will hold the assets of your estate and allow your heirs to access those assets at a predetermined rate over a predetermined amount of time. For example, you may withhold access until a child is of a certain age. There are a whole range of restrictions you can put into place regarding how and when a beneficiary can access a trust.
Keep in mind that there are some limitations to these trust restrictions. For example, a trust cannot withhold funds based on a child’s religious faith or choice of a spouse.
One huge perk of a trust is that it protects heirs from more than just their own irresponsibility. For example, a divorce can’t touch a trust because (technically) the trust is not the property of the heir.
However, there are some pitfalls to watch out for when creating a trust. “What [our clients] don’t want is what some people call ‘trust fund kids’ that are not working and are just living off a trust and not being productive,” says Chris Kerckoff, president of Plancorp. I’m sure you would agree with that. After all, a “trust fund kid” feeds into the fear Warren Buffett expressed. You should work with a Dayton estate planning attorney to establish a trust structure that balances conservation with incentives and fits well with your particular circumstances.