A recent Kiplinger article asks: “Is Your Beneficiary Ready to Receive Money?” In fact, not everyone will be mentally or emotionally prepared for the money you wish to leave them. What if your beneficiary isn’t ready to handle an inheritance? Here are some things to consider:
The Beneficiary’s Age. Children under 18 years old cannot sign legal contracts. Without some planning, the court will take custody of the funds on the child’s behalf. This usually occurs via custody accounts, protective orders or guardianships. If this happens, there’s little control over how the money will be used. The guardianship will usually end and the funds are paid to the child the second they turn 18. Giving significant financial resources to a young adult who’s not ready for the responsibility, often ends in disaster. Work with an estate planning attorney to find a solution to avoid this result.
The Beneficiary’s Lifestyle. There are many other circumstances for which you need to consider and plan. These include the following:
- A beneficiary with a substance abuse or gambling problem;
- A beneficiary and her inheritance winds up in an abusive relationship;
- A beneficiary is sued;
- A beneficiary is going through a divorce;
- A beneficiary has a disability; and
- A beneficiary who’s unable to manage assets.
All of these issues can be addressed, with the aid of an estate planning attorney. A testamentary trust can be created to make certain that minors (and adults who just may not be ready) don’t get money too soon, while also making sure they have funds available to help with school, health care, and living expenses.
Who Will Manage the Trust? Every trust must have a trustee. Find a person who is willing to do the work. You can also engage a professional trustee for larger trusts. The trustee will distribute funds, only in the ways you’ve instructed. Conditions can include getting an education, or using the money for a home or for substance abuse rehab.
Estate Plan Review. Review your estate plan after major life events or every few years. Talk to a qualified estate planning attorney to make the process easier and to be certain that your money goes to the right people at the right time.
Reference: Kiplinger (April 1, 2019) “Is Your Beneficiary Ready to Receive Money?”