ESTATE PLANNING IN GEORGIA FOR MINOR CHILDREN
Aug. 9, 2022
In terms of planning for the needs of their minor children, the guiding star for parents of minor children is meeting the children’s needs in the event of the parents’ untimely death. This raises questions of how will the children’s needs be provided for financially? Bear in mind that in general, minors cannot inherit real property (a house, apartment, or land) or personal property (money or things) until they reach the age of majority (become legal adults).
One method of providing for minor children is a revocable living trust (RLT). The key idea behind an RLT is to allocate assets – your property – to a minor while you are still alive and still have authority to revoke (end) the trust.
You, as the parent, are the trustee of an RLT. The trustee of a trust is the custodian of the assets placed in the trust. The trustee is the person responsible for managing and administering the finances of the trust according to the instructions of the trust’s creator. You may see terms like “trustor,” “settlor,” or “grantor.” These all basically are fancy terms for the creator of the trust. It is quite common for the trust creator to name themselves as trustee – they do not have to be separate people.
With an RLT, you also must appoint a successor trustee. The successor trustee will take over as trustee if and when you die or become incapacitated. At this point, the RLT becomes irrevocable – the granting of the trust cannot be ended. During your life, however, the RLT can be undone at any time.
You can appoint any individual in whom you have confidence as the successor trustee. It should, however, be someone reliable and basically knowledgeable about financial affairs.
The successor trustee, like any trustee, will be responsible for meeting the directives you set under the RLT. This may be to simply distribute the trust assets to the children when they reach the age of majority. For younger children, it may be to distribute funds to the person appointed as the children’s guardian to provide for their daily needs, healthcare, education, etc.
The successor trustee can be the same person you appoint as the guardian of your children if you die. Bear in mind that if you do appoint separate individuals as guardian and successor trustee, they will need to work together to make sure the child is cared for and that the guardian is provided with sufficient trust funds to meet that objective.
On the other hand, if the successor trustee is also the guardian, you may want to be extra assured that the person you appoint will truly use the trust distributions for the children’s benefit and not simply their own.
How an Attorney Can Help
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“Catch them being good.” Parents often find themselves criticizing or reacting negatively to their children. One way to counteract this is to praise them for things when they don’t know you were watching. It can something as simple as “Thank you for bringing your dishes to the sink without being asked.”