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You may choose to leave your estate to your child at your death. However, concerns may arise in doing so. Is your child financially unstable or irresponsible? Is your child a minor? Is your child involved in a lawsuit or bankruptcy? Is your child going through a divorce? Is your child receiving government benefits due to special needs?
If any concerns arise pertaining to your child receiving an outright inheritance from your estate after you’ve passed away, protections can be put in place in your revocable living trust to address those concerns. Within your own trust, a trust for your child can be created. The terms of your child’s trust may require indefinite oversight by another individual (your successor trustee) and entrust that inheritance to the trustee’s discretion for distributions. By leaving the inheritance in a trust for your child and out of their direct control, you can also protect it from being accessible by creditors during that lawsuit, divorce, or bankruptcy. If your children are minors, you can structure the trust to allow for distributions upon the completion of education or at certain ages in life. If you have a special needs child, a detailed special or supplemental needs trust can be structured to supplement, rather than supplant, any benefits your child may be receiving.
Christine Ellingsen is a Northern California native now practicing law as an estate planning attorney in Carmel Valley San Diego at the Barger Law Group, APC. She spent a year in New York working in the business sector before moving to Southern California to attend law school at the University of San Diego. She is happy to have started her law career in San Diego and to now call Encinitas home, where she keeps busy between exploring Coastal North County and training her new puppy.