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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How Trust Planning Can Help When You're a Divorced Parent of a Minor Child


Summary: Estate plans can come in many different varieties to accommodate a wide array of planning needs. If you have a minor child or a child with special needs, making sure you have an estate plan should be a priority. If are no longer married to the father/mother of your child, an estate plan can help you ensure that you have the exact people you want caring for your child and managing your child's wealth, even if those are different people.

As you may know if you've much research on estate planning, your estate plan can offer you and your family more benefits than just providing instructions regarding the distribution of your wealth after you die. An estate plan can also help you create a "roadmap" for the care and support of your minor child or children (or child with special needs). 

With an estate plan, you can nominate the person (or people) you want to be your child's guardian. By engaging in this type of estate planning, you can rest assured that the person or people caring for your child after your death is someone who wants to have that job, and with whom you and your child are comfortable.

Also, you can make sure, through your estate planning, that your child will be properly cared for financially. Establishing a trust of which your child is the beneficiary can achieve that end. Additionally, a trust of which your child is the beneficiary can allow you to ensure that your child does not receive too large an inheritance at too large an age. You can structure your child's trust such that she receives distributions at points you set up. That way, you can ensure that your child does not, for example, receive one large lump-sum of cash at age 18. You can instruct the trustee to issue payments at various points, such as a 21st, 25th or 30th birthday, college graduation or marriage.

Creating a trust for your child is especially helpful if your child has special needs and receives benefits from government programs that include needs-based qualifications for eligibility. Without a trust, a direct inheritance from you could cause your child to lose her continued eligibility for these programs. 

Estate planning for your child's care can be especially important for families where you and the child's father/mother are divorced. Perhaps your preference, in the event of your death, would be for your ex-spouse to serve as your child's guardian, but you do not want your "ex" to control the money you desire to leave for the benefit of your child. A carefully constructed estate plan can address all of these concerns. The law does not require that the person you name to serve as the guardian of your child be the same as the person you designate as the trustee of your child's trust. So, for example, you could name the child's father as the guardian, but could also name another trusted family member, like your brother, sister or parent, to function as the trustee of the trust. This is, of course, just one option available in order meet all of your family's needs.

This article is published by the Legacy Assurance Plan and is intended for general informational purposes only. Some information may not apply to your situation. It does not, nor is it intended, to constitute legal advice. You should consult with an attorney regarding any specific questions about probate, living probate or other estate planning matters. Legacy Assurance Plan is an estate planning services-company and is not a lawyer or law firm and is not engaged in the practice of law. For more information about this and other estate planning matters visit our website at www.legacyassuranceplan.com

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