If you have young children, outlining your wishes for their care in the event of your incapacitation or death is an extremely important part of the estate planning process. While you have probably thought a great deal about who to name as the guardian for your child (or children) if neither parent was there to care for them, determining how and when kids will receive their inheritance—and who will manage it on their behalf in the meantime—is just as vital.
Whether you're a parent fighting to ensure that your children would be well cared for in your absence, or a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other relative intent on leaving assets to a minor, the estate planning attorneys with Cucinelli Geiger, PC can help you explore your legal options for protecting them and their futures. Here's what you need to know.
Designing an Estate Plan That Provides for Young Children
Estate planning can be complicated, particularly where providing for minor children is involved. Misconceptions abound, and they can lead you down a path that has unintended negative consequences. For example, when naming a guardian for your children, you may have assumed that said guardian could automatically access your kids' inheritance and use it to care for them. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Unless your estate plan specifies that the children's guardian should also manage any assets left to them until they come of age, you'll need to name another individual to serve as property guardian. Otherwise, the court will control those assets. Either way, the assets managed for your children will become available to them, without restrictions, when they turn 18.
A well-crafted estate plan can help ensure that your children's caregivers have access to adequate resources, as well as prevent your kids from receiving large sums that they may not yet be mature enough to manage as young adults.
Potential Estate Plan Solutions
Leaving assets to minor children is something that requires careful consideration and complex estate planning strategies. Here's why: While kids can inherit, they can't legally own assets until they're at least 18 years old. Even after your children are technically adults, you may have stipulations for when and how they should receive their inheritance. Our attorneys can help you find the right solution to achieve your goals. Consider these options.
After your death, the assets you left to your surviving family members can get held up in probate. Naming your children as beneficiaries on your savings accounts, life insurance policies, investment accounts, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts you want them to have can prevent unnecessary delays. If you are married, you can name your kids as contingent beneficiaries after your spouse.
Another option is to name a property guardian or custodian and set up an account through the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA). Not only can the money in this account be used for things that benefit your children, but the arrangement also allows you to provide detailed instructions for the property guardian. A UTMA custodianship can provide many of the benefits of a trust, but without the complications and expense. However, Virginia has strict regulations governing these types of accounts, so it's wise to consult an experienced attorney before making any decisions.
Trusts can be complicated and expensive to establish, but they have the benefit of allowing you to specify requirements that your kids must meet to receive their inheritance. For example, if you want inherited assets distributed to your children in installments, at certain ages, or only under certain conditions, a trust can help you do that. Talk to our attorneys about the many trust options for your estate plan.
Schedule a Consultation
At Cucinelli Geiger, PC, our exceptional attorneys are here to guide you through each and every step of the estate planning process, helping you find the right solutions to protect your kids and their futures. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your estate planning goals with a member of our team.