Monday, June 22, 2020

Legalities to Consider When Leaving an Inheritance to Minor Children in Your Will

If you are thinking of leaving bequests to minor children in your last will and testament, you should keep several things in mind. If the children receive an inheritance while they are still under the legal age of adulthood, gifts of value like money, investment shares, or anything of significant worth may be held in trust until they become adults. 

Here are considerations that may impact a child’s inheritance.

Child Custody

Children of divorced parents may be experienced with shared parenting, which means both parents oversee the financial interests of their kids. If an inheritance is left under the supervision of one parent or the other, it needs to be designated that way. 

Otherwise, either or both parents may try to gain control of the inheritance and possibly misuse it before the children reach legal adulthood.


You can designate another relative or someone outside the family to serve as trustee of the children’s inheritance until they are old enough as stipulated in the bequest to receive the gift as an adult. However, the trustee should give consent and understand the terms of the bequest before you add that person to your Will. 

Considerations for any person to serve as trustee include that person’s age, health, and other responsibilities. For example, if the trustee is in the military before the kids reach legal age, could the trustee be serving overseas in a role that would make it difficult to return to the U.S. if needed?

Specific Designations

If you bequeath financial gifts to minor children without strings or guidance, the money can be used for anything when the kids grow up and receive the inheritance. If you want them to use the funds for college, travel, a car, or another specific expense, that should be clearly spelled out in your Will. 

If the gift is to be used for college, will the children receive it as soon as they enroll in college classes, when they successfully earn passing grades for a semester of courses, or when they receive a college degree?

Legal Questions

As you can see, leaving an inheritance for underage children can be challenging. It is important to be sure that your bequest is clearly explained and that the person you want to care for the gift until the children grow up is capable of doing so. Consult a trust attorney for help with arranging this type of inheritance so there will be no problems later.

Plan your bequests ahead of time by considering the details. Consult a legal authority who can help you make adequate arrangements for leaving minor children an inheritance.

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