Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Estate Planning With A Child

Question: I don’t have a lot in assets, but I have a young child. Is it important that I have a Will?

Answer: An estate plan (which often includes a Will), is important for any reasons. For a person with a young child, a Will has a number of important goals.

One of the more important goals is to designate a guardian for minor children and to establish the distribution terms of the child’s inheritance. A Will is the document that establishes guardianship upon the death of the parents. A guardian is the person who will take care of the child’s day to day needs such as education, religious preferences, domicile and necessities (food, shelter, etc). Without such a provision, the guardianship must be established in a court. The proceeding can be expensive, time consuming and may result in the appointment of a guardian for whom the parents would not have chosen.

In terms of distribution, a Will can push the age of distribution of the child’s inheritance to 21 (under a Uniform Transfers to Minors Account) rather than 18, which is typically the default provision under most state laws. In addition, a Will often includes language to allow the child’s inheritance to pass into trust which would postpone the age upon which a child will receive his or her inheritance past 21.

The Trustee of such trust can be a person who is different than the guardian and who can take charge of the child’s financial assets and manage them for the term of the trust.


Steven E. Shane

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.



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