When meeting with clients regarding their wills, trusts and estate plans, we regularly discuss whom they wish to provide assets to at their passing. That is usually the easy question. Many people know or have a pretty clear idea of who they want to provide their assets to, but the tough question is how and which structure is right for them.

Fears over the child’s misuse of the funds, what impact the receipt of the assets would have on that child’s life and the concerns for divorce and other creditors taking significant portions of the inheritance are all reasons structure and protection become important.

A trust is a great tool that provides asset protection and structure management to a child after you are gone. Whether that child is a minor or an adult that is just not ready to take things over, a trust can be a secure planning vehicle.

A couple of key structure points to provide asset protection for that child-beneficiary:

  • Limit the right of that beneficiary to demand funds from the trust
  • Consider later ages of distribution of principal to keep things managed by the protective trust
  • Make sure you choose the right Trustee. Independent, financially savvy and the ability to stand up to beneficiary or other creditor demands are all key.
  • Implement a discretionary trust distribution structure so Trustee has the ability to distribute for proper needs, but to freeze distributions in the event of beneficiary misuse or other creditors or ex-spouses of beneficiaries.

Yes, the goal is to provide for the beneficiary, but in a protected manner. Trusts and other estate planning strategies can be a great way to achieve these goals if implemented the right way. The key is to address what your real concerns are as well as your desires for the enjoyment and use of the assets.  Then build the proper structure to accomplish them.