Frequently Asked Questions & Article

If I have children, do I need an estate plan?

Edward Joy’s Answer: If you have assets of any significance, the answer is yes.  If parents die without a will or trust, their children inherit all of their parents’ assets when they turn eighteen.  At eighteen, a child has neither the maturity nor life experience to handle significant assets.  If they were to inherit $500,000, they may believe they never need to work again and that they do not need to pursue higher education.  Before the children know it, they will have neither parental guidance nor money.  The best estate planning tool to address this issue is a revocable living trust.  In the trust, the parents can spread out the distribution of their assets to the children.  (For example, parents can specify that the child gets one-third of the estate at age 30, one-third at age 35 and the remaining assets at age 45.)  The parents can also select a trusted family member or friend to serve as trustee, who, in the meantime, can provide money to their growing children to take care of their health, education and maintenance.  A will can accomplish similar goals, but it is less effective than a trust when it comes to (a) detailing what assets the parents want their children to have and (b) providing care instructions for their children.