If you have young children, you might think that just creating a last will and naming a guardian who will love and provide for them is sufficient protection in the event that something happens to you while they are still young and dependent on you. However, if you intend to leave most or all of your assets to your children, a direct inheritance may not be the best decision.
Even adults can struggle with the management of a lump-sum inheritance, and it will likely be adults and not your children who have immediate access to the inheritance if you die while they’re still minors. Creating and funding a trust as part of your estate plan can go a lot further to protect your children than a simple last will.
A trust will protect your children from financial abuse
Whether your former spouse or a guardian you named in your last will will be the one who takes over parenting duties if you die, it can be very hard to predict how that person will handle having access to a large amount of liquid capital. It is an, unfortunately, common occurrence for adult guardians to completely use up an inheritance intended for minors before those children turn 18.
If the guardian you name squanders the resources you leave behind, your children will have limited options for recourse when they finally reach adulthood. Putting the assets you leave behind in the trust will mean that the guardian you name can only access those assets in specific circumstances. The trustee provides oversight for the use of those funds and can protect your children from someone who might squander those resources.
There are plenty of other benefits to a trust, including that you can limit how your children use those resources when they come of age and that you can designate other beneficiaries after your children if the assets don’t last for that long. Trusts can also help your estate avoid probate court and estate taxes. If you want to make sure that your legacy lasts until your children become adults, the inclusion of a trust in your estate plan may be the right strategy for you.