Many parents come into our office with one concern on their minds: protecting and providing for their children. We help these parents select loving guardians and set up solid trust or inheritance plans to ensure that their children will have everything they need. But parents often have another concern as well—how to keep their children from squandering an inheritance received too early.
These parents want to protect their children from "predators" and "creditors" including the potential disaster of being given too much financial responsibility before they are mature enough to handle it; they either want to keep their inheritance in trust for the children or gradually relinquish control or assets as each child reaches the milestones which prove they are fiscally prepared. We are happy to help parents design a plan that helps them achieve this goal.
One strategy to help a child reach financial maturity is to specify an age at which a child may be co-trustee of his or her own trust. The child can then partner with a co-trustee of the parents’ choosing; this could be a close friend of the family, a trusted financial advisor, or even a corporate trustee such as a bank. This gives the child the opportunity to get a taste of responsibility and begin making decisions, but with a safety net beneath them. When the child reaches a certain age (or alternatively, after attaining a goal such as graduation from college or graduate school, or gainful employment for a specified amount of time) he or she may then become sole trustee of his or her own trust.
If parents don't want to keep the inheritance in continuing trusts for their children, another strategy is to give the child access to the trust principal itself in gradual increments. For example, the child may receive 1/3 upon graduation from college, another 1/3 ten years later, and the remaining 1/3 ten years after that. Of course the ages and amounts are completely up to each client, but the slow distribution of assets allows the child to have a learning curve, something which makes the parents (and the child) much more comfortable.
At our office we understand that there is no substitute for parental involvement, but we can give our clients options that can lay a strong foundation for fiscal responsibility. If you are a parent with similar concerns, contact our office for more information.