Most parents come into our office with one concern on their minds: protecting and providing for their children. We help these parents select loving guardians and set up solid trust or inheritance plans to ensure that their children will have everything they need. But parents often have another concern as well—how to keep their children from squandering an inheritance received too early.
These parents want to protect their children from the potential disaster of being given too much financial means before they are mature enough to handle it; they want to gradually relinquish control as each child reaches the milestones which prove they are fiscally prepared. We are happy to help parents design a plan that helps them achieve this goal.
One strategy to help a child reach financial maturity is to specify an age at which a child may be co-trustee of his or her own trust. The child can then partner with a co-trustee of the parents’ choosing; this could be a close friend of the family, a trusted financial advisor, or even a corporate trustee such as a bank. This gives the child the opportunity to get a taste of responsibility and begin making decisions, but with a safety net beneath them. When the child reaches a certain age (or alternatively, after attaining a goal such as graduation from college, or gainful employment for a specified amount of time) he or she may then become sole trustee of his or her own trust.
Another strategy is to give the child access to the trust principle itself in gradual increments. For example, the child may receive 1/3 upon graduation from college, another 1/3 four years later, and the remaining 1/3 four years after that. Of course the ages and amounts are completely up to each client, but the slow distribution of assets allows the child to have a learning curve, something which may make the parents (and the child) much more comfortable.
We understand that there is no substitute for parental involvement, but we can give parents options that can lay a strong foundation for fiscal responsibility.