Did you know that minor children can inherit from your estate if you leave them any of your assets in your will, or under certain circumstances even if you die without a will? This can be a blessing to the children, or a curse to your surviving spouse or other family members that receive a portion of your estate. Let’s look at some dangerous situations that can be avoided with a thoughtful will.
Minor children take their portion of your estate in trust.
What on earth is a minor child going to do with an ownership interest in grown-up property? Obviously, minor children have a hard time entering into contracts for sale, purchase agreements, loans, and other grown-up business transactions. The typical way minor children do business is through a trustee.
A trustee has a fiduciary duty to the minor child to manage the child’s estate. The trustee will enter into contracts and conduct business on behalf of the child. If a child inherits a portion of your estate, your will should name a trustee for the child. Usually, a married couple will name the child’s other parent as trustee, along with another trusted family member as a back-up trustee for the child.
When a person dies without a will, the child’s surviving parent becomes the de facto trustee for the child. This makes sense when a couple was happily married, but what if the couple was divorced? What if the surviving parent of the child is terrible with managing money? What if the surviving parent has a drug or alcohol problem? What if the surviving parent doesn’t get along well with your surviving spouse? What if the surviving parent doesn’t get along with your surviving family members? In any of these situations, the portion of your estate that passes to your children is going to be managed by someone who may not do an admirable job of acting as trustee for the child.
An up-to-date will that accurately reflects your wishes will allow for minor children to take a portion of your estate and have that estate managed carefully by a person you have designated. This makes sure the child benefits from your estate as you intended, and prevents serious conflicts between your surviving family and a de facto trustee that may or may not place the child’s best interest ahead of his or her need for quick cash, his or her need for revenge against your surviving spouse, or other selfish motives. Once again, a thoughtful will provides security for your surviving family.
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas family law firm that uses a holistic approach to help people get on with their new life by getting done with their old life. We believe having a thoughtful will package is family law, and we offer a robust selection of testamentary and other documents our clients need to confidently move on with their new lives. This essay is intended for educational use only, and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information, contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at www.youngblood-law.com, or on your mobile device, open your browser and type in lawfw.biz and press Go.
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