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Estate planning options to provide for children

Although many New Jersey people may avoid thinking about death, the reality is that it cannot be escaped, and the welfare of surviving loved ones may need some careful consideration. This is especially true if there are small children involved. Estate planning offers different options in which to leave inheritances to children, and each option has its own pros and cons.

A restricted account is one choice that is most suitable for unsubstantial amounts. A restricted account can hold the child's inheritance until he or she reaches adulthood. There are two types, one of which will give the child full access to the money at age 18 or 21 -- depending on state laws, and the other type restricts the funds for the sole use of a college education. However, the child will not have access to that account if he or she decides against post-secondary education.

For more substantial inheritances, parents can consider leaving the assets in stages. This allows lump sums to be made available at staggered intervals or when specific goals are reached. Examples include portions paid after graduation, earning a college degree and so forth. One drawback may be the fact that once the child receives the lump sum, the money will not be protected from lawsuits, divorcing spouses or bad financial management.

Lastly, a lifetime trust is regarded as the safest option for providing an inheritance for a child's entire lifetime. A trustee can manage the funds for the child while he or she is a minor. This trust can be set up to determine where any funds remaining in the trust after the beneficiary's death will go. Assets in this type of trust will be safe from a divorcing spouse and his or her family, as well as any lawsuits that may arise. Deciding the most appropriate method of providing for a child is quite a challenge, and for that reason, many people seek the advice of an experienced New Jersey estate planning attorney to provide support and guidance.

Source: thebalance.com, "Options for Paying Minor Beneficiaries Their Inheritance", Julie Garber, Accessed on Nov. 3, 2017

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