Daily Q&A with Matt Hopkins
Legal trust can help ensure heir doesn't quickly squander share
Q: How do parents provide for a child with a gambling problem in their will, but also protect that share from being wasted after they die?
A: Many people I have helped with estate planning over the years have had at least one beneficiary who just couldn't manage his affairs. Along with addictive behavior, a grown child with a problematic spouse may make it necessary to protect the child's share. Children with mental or physical disabilities may require help managing their money to best meet their needs over many years. And those of us with minor children may want to dole out funds to them in stages as they age in order to make sure their long-term needs are met.
Q: Is a will enough to protect the gambler?
A: No. A will generally is insufficient to protect an heir from his own irresponsible behavior or problematic circumstance. When you pass your property by will, your child gets the property in one lump sum.
Q: What about a trust?
A: The best decision. In a trust, you can leave a child his share but leave the control of that share with a person you know will look out for his best interests. That person — the trustee — will have possession and control of the child's inheritance, and will be able to ensure it is used for his benefit, according to your instructions. You can leave each of your children equal (or unequal) shares, but provide that their shares are to be managed differently. In a trust, the options are virtually limitless, and you can customize your estate plan to account for the varied needs of your heirs.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER