Providing for minor children in your will – the contingent trust

By Sam Ventola,

silhouette-childrenIf you have minor children, what is the best way to provide for them in a will if both parents die? For most people, the answer is the contingent trust. When many people hear the word “trust” they think of something incredibly complicated and expensive. In reality, however, a contingent trust makes sense for most people, even when they do not have large estates.

Of course, if one parent dies, most wills will provide for all assets to be left to the spouse who is left to take care of the children. A will should provide for a contingent trust, however, in case both parents die, such as in an accident.

One might think that your money and property could just be left to a trusted friend of family member who will be asked to care for the children. There are problems with this approach. First, this does not ensure that the assets are used to care for the children. Second, your assets would become subject to claims of creditors of the person you designated.

If you have minor children, review your will and make sure it provides for a contingent trust. Also, remember that although you may be assuming that all your property will be distributed according to your will, this may not be the case: insurance proceeds with named beneficiaries, pay-on-death bank accounts, and property held in joint tenancy may be subject to distribution in some other way if you did not properly name the beneficiaries. For all these reasons, even those with small estates should seek legal assistance if they have any doubts about their wills and property.

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