May 09, 2022

Estate Planning for Parents with Young Children

Parents with young children face unique issues, when dealing with the personal and financial preparations of estate planning.

If you are a parent with children under 18, or even in their early to mid-20s, estate planning is of vital importance. In addition to the ever-present priority of avoiding probate, these issues are particularly relevant for parents:

3 Critical Issues

1. Minors need a guardian nominated in case of your untimely death.

2. Typically, children under 18 cannot inherit property in their name.

3. Many parents would not want young adults receiving all their inheritance at once.

There are a variety of tools for addressing these critical issues. For example, Wills can select your child’s guardian (if both custodial parents die). In addition, Trusts and other non-probative transfers can keep your assets out of probate. As a result, Trusts (and similar tools) will maximize your child’s inheritance and minimize the red tape when transferring assets from one generation to the next.

Additionally, Trusts are a very efficient way to manage your assets and your children’s inheritance after your death. A Trust allows you to appoint a manager (called a successor trustee) to enforce the terms of your Trust. Trusts usually involve staggered distributions for young beneficiaries. For example, your Trust can arrange for your children’s basic needs (food, shelter, health care, etc.) to be met while they are young and then delay distributing the principal of the Trust until children have reached set ages. One standard format for inheritance distribution is in thirds from the beneficiary‚Äôs late teens to early thirties (i.e., 1/3 at 21; 1/3 at 25; 1/3 at 30).

Financial responsibility is a learned skill. Giving your child their entire inheritance in phases makes it more likely to be prudently managed.

In short, people in all phases of life benefit from estate planning. However, parents with young children face issues that add significance to having a proper estate plan in place.


This article represents the opinion of the author and is intended for educational purposes. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. One should always consult with an experienced attorney before making estate planning decisions.

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