Critter Corner: The Best Way to Leave Assets to Minor Children

Dear Commander Bun Bun,

My husband and I were talking about doing estate planning and how to provide for our minor children. Of course, we want to leave almost everything to our children, because we want to make sure that they are provided for in the event something happens to us. But we couldn’t trust them with the inheritance at this time, since they are still young and immature. If we name a guardian for our children, will that person be able to use the inheritance to take care of them? Is the Will the right vehicle to do this type of planning, or is there a different strategy you recommend?


Taye Kincare-Ofthem


Dear Taye,

Quite often, children inherit money, real estate, stocks, CDs and other investments from their parents, grandparents, or other relatives. Many parents think that if they name a guardian for their minor children in a Will and something happens to them, the named person will automatically be able to use that inheritance to take care of the children. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens.

When the Will is probated, the court will appoint a guardian to raise the child; usually this is the person named by the parents. But the court, not the guardian, will control the inheritance until the child reaches legal age (18 in Virginia and most states). At that time, the child will receive the entire inheritance. Most parents would prefer that their children inherit at a later age, but with a “simple Will,” you don’t have that choice, nor would a “simple Will” in this situation make anything simple. Once the child attains the age of majority, the court must distribute the entire inheritance to the child in one lump sum.

A much better strategy is a Revocable Living Trust, the preferred option for most parents and grandparents. With a Revocable Living Trust, the person(s) you select as successor trustee(s), not the court, will be able to manage the inheritance for your minor children or grandchildren until they reach the age(s) you want them to inherit. In addition, each child’s needs and circumstances can be accommodated, just as you would do. And, assets that remain in the trust can stay protected from the courts, irresponsible spending, and creditors (including divorce proceedings).

To learn more about estate planning for your specific situation, you should make an appointment for a no-cost introductory consultation with Mr. Farr.

Hop to see you soon,

Commander Bun Bun

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