We work with moms. One of the first things we discuss with moms (and dads) when we meet with them in our consultation is why they need a trust and why a basic or simple will won’t work. We’d like to share that information with you, also.
So why won’t a simple will work for a mom or dad of minor kids?
Because a simple will likely results in your children’s inheritance from you being overseen by the court system until they are 18years old. Because whomever gets put in charge of the money until each child turns 18 years old will need to check in with the court at least yearly AND will have to meticulously account for money spent and maybe even have to ask permission to spend money to help your child. Because a simple will means your child gets ALL the money when they turn 18 years old. Because a simple will means that you, mom, don’t get to say how that money is spent before your child turns 18 years old or after your child gets the money when they turn 18 years old.
Because a simple will makes things incredibly complicated for those you leave behind, especially your children. They’ve already lost you and now its more complicated and difficult because you chose a simple will.
Why do you need a trust then?
Because a trust, whether it is a testamentary trust or a living trust, solves all of these complications and also provides more protection! We call our trusts for parents Child Safekeeping Plans. Do you have one?
A trust based estate plan will nominate a person, a trustee, to watch over any money you want to leave your child. If you create a meaningful and appropriate trust based plan, this trustee you have chosen will carry out your wishes as to this money. The money you leave your child will stay under the care of this trustee until your child reaches the age YOU WANT them to have control of the money. Maybe that isn’t 18 years old. Maybe its more like 23 or 25 years old. The trustee will also, because you have decided it, be able to use the money for things like medical expenses and education expenses for your child. They won’t need the court’s permission for this, also. They also won’t have to account for every dime they spend to a court, neither. They will have to keep records and they will have to account to someone if that is what you want, but it doesn’t have to be the court. Most importantly, you can give your child money over time … let them get older and more financially mature before you hand over fifty thousand, one hundred thousand or even more to them at a young adult age.
A trust will do this for you. A trust avoids a conservatorship (that is the court process where they watch over the money until your child turns 18 at which time your child gets it all without strings attached). A trust allows you to voice your desires and your parental values, even if you are not there.
So a parent of a child under the age of 18 years old in Georgia should never have a basic (or simple) will. They really must have a trust. Whether they have a testamentary trust or a living trust will depend on several things, including what the parent wants, what types of things you are going to leave for your child in your plan (like life insurance, retirement accounts, home, etc.), how much money you wish to spend on planning right now, how much time you have to spend on planning right now, etc. It isn’t a decision someone else can make for you. It is only a decision that you, mom, can make for yourself and your family.
We work with moms to help them figure out what they want their plan to do for them, who they want to be in charge of the money they leave for their children, which plan makes the most sense for them right now and more. We focus on educating our moms to make decisions based on what THEY WANT.