Although it is possible for a minor to inherit assets, the individual to whom an asset goes cannot claim it until he or she reaches the age of maturity. In the event that both parents die, a court-appointed judge will designate a legal guardian who will be responsible for overseeing the minor’s assets until the child comes of age. Parents who do not wish to see that happen can create legal plans to override the laws of the state. When thinking about any inheritance that you may want to leave to minor kids, Tampa will and trust lawyers encourage parents to consider the following planning strategies:
Take the Time to Write a Will
Parents need to understand that their children will not automatically inherit any of their assets. This is especially true for those who have stepchildren who they want to share in their estate, as they are not considered legal heirs under the law. Or, if the parent is remarried and passes away, the laws of succession will leave most assets to the new spouse rather than children from a prior relationship. The best way to ensure your children inherit everything you desire is to create a will that specifies to whom certain assets will go. If you do not create a will, a probate judge will simply divide assets and money according to the laws of the state, regardless of a parent’s wishes.
Create a Trust
Creating a trust is an excellent way to keep the details of your children’s inheritance private and out of court. Parents can also utilize trusts to put safeguards around an inheritance until the children are mature enough to handle the responsibility. For example, many of our clients will stipulate that their kids can’t collect their full inheritance until age 25 or that payments can only be made if the child stays in school. A trust also allows parents to name a trustee who will oversee their child’s funds. The trustee will pay any necessary bills and provide the children with any money from the inheritance that is needed. You can set up a separate trust for each child or create a joint one the children share.
Proceed with Caution When Planning For Kids With Special Needs!
Extreme caution needs to be given when it comes to leaving an inheritance for a child with special needs. If one or both parents die, any inheritance that is left to that child could void his or her eligibility for SSI or Medicaid—which may be the child’s only option for healthcare. To ensure this does not happen, a separate type of trust called a Special Needs Trust will likely need to be created to keep the inheritance legally out of the child’s name to avoid interfering with benefits.
If you want to have a say over what happens to your kids and their inheritance if you unexpectedly pass away, you need to have a plan. Otherwise, your family will be at the mercy of judges who are complete strangers. If you need help putting together a will or trust to ensure that never happens, contact our Brandon estate planning law firm today. We can help make sure your children are protected and that your assets will go to them safely and securely when the time comes.