Easy Mistakes to Avoid When Passing Assets to Your Children

passing assets

Setting up a trust fund for your children can ensure that the money you are leaving behind for them is taken care for them, in the way that you want. But your efforts in completing this important, yet somber task can be ruined by making one of these common mistakes.

Leaving Assets Outright to Kids

One of the worst things you can do is to do nothing, which means that whatever you are leaving behind will go to your children outright, unprotected and directly to them when they turn 18.

But, worse than that, it means that a Court will decide who handles the assets for them (and whoever is named as their guardian) before they turn 18.

And, it’s very likely that those assets will not be used in the way you want. On top of that, if a professional Trustee is appointed, the costs of handling the assets could drain what’s left for your kids, quickly.

Not Carefully Choosing a Trustee

Even parents who do the right thing and set up a trust to hold what’s being left behind for their kids sometimes do not think carefully enough about who the Trustee should be taking care of the assets.

Do you want one trustee or a co-trustee who can ensure the funds are well managed? Choosing more than one can provide some accountability for how the funds are used.

Not Properly Protecting Assets Left in Trust

Another mistake parents make when setting up a trust is distributing the assets out of the trust direct to their children at specific ages or stages, instead of holding those assets in a flexible lifetime trust that will protect their kids’ inheritance from future divorces, creditors or accidental lawsuits.

Unfortunately, most lawyers do not understand how to use trusts to establish this kind of vital protection for the inheritance you are leaving behind. And they may even suggest to you that it’s not necessary, if you have a smaller estate.

I believe that even when you are leaving behind a small amount of assets, protecting those assets and teaching your children how to grow them (instead of squander them) can be the seed of a huge turning point for many generations to come.

It would be my honor to share more about this with you during a Family Wealth Planning Session.

Neglecting to Fix Beneficiary Designations

Lastly, make sure your insurance policies are directed to your trust and not directly to your children. This is a huge mistake we repeatedly see. Naming minors or even young adults as the beneficiaries of insurance and retirement accounts is a sure-fire way to ensure they are not used in the way you want and unnecessarily get stuck in a court process, which you can easily avoid.

A trust can both provide for and protect your children after your death, as well as ensure you are cared for the way you want in the event of your incapacity.

If you’re ready to set up an effective plan for your family’s well-being and care, start by sitting down with us.  As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we’ll help you protect, preserve and enhance what matters most.

This article is a service of Jennifer R. Cochran-Green, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.

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Jennifer Cochran-Green

She currently serves as President on the Board of Directors of Adoption Knowledge Affiliates and wrote a storybook about adopting a child to help adoptive parents talk about adoption with their children. She loves spending time with her husband and daughter, mountain biking, writing, and sewing. Learn More

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