I sometimes forget that clients cannot read my mind. We will be talking about their estate plan and making sure that their minor or disabled children are provided for and I’ll mention the word “trust.” I mean in the general sense of “a person (the trustee) holding property for the benefit of another (the beneficiary.)” This instrument can take multiple forms and be as simple or complex as you need it to be.
But, often clients hear me mention a trust for their children and they immediately think of Paris Hilton or some other ne’er do well child living off their inheritance. “Oh, no, we don’t need a trust for her, we don’t have that much.” Or simply “no, I don’t think we want that.”
It’s at that point that we slow down and I remember how I feel when my computer guy starts talking over my head, and I go back to the Trust 101 talk. I explain how a minor child cannot inherit property in Massachusetts, and that by naming someone (the trustee) to hold the property for the child (the beneficiary) the family can avoid having to have the Courts get involved and the accompanying time and expense that brings with it.
Depending on the family’s wishes and their budget, it may be that the trust language can be crafted into the Will to make sure that the child’s inheritance is protected when necessary and accessible when necessary. In other situations, a more complex special needs trust may need to be drafted to make sure that vital benefits are not lost. Most families will fall somewhere in between.
Having a trust does not mean that you are rich or stuck up or that your children will become reality TV stars. It just means that you are protecting your children and making sure that the inheritance you leave them is handled by the people you trust with the privacy you want.