Protecting your beneficiaries
By creating a proper and robust estate plan, you might actually be able to help protect your beneficiaries. In some cases, your beneficiaries may be too young or may not have the wisdom to handle a large inheritance, especially in one lump sum. Do you really trust your 18 year old with $500,000? What about your 30 year old? Your sister? Your brother?
Aside from youth, there may be other reasons to protect your beneficiaries. For example, do some of your beneficiaries have spendthrift tendencies that make it unwise for them to inherit large sums of money? Will they blow through all the money in a matter of weeks? Perhaps a beneficiary might be in the middle of a divorce, a lawsuit, or other situation where inheriting a large sum of cash may not be the best idea. What if one of your beneficiaries has a gambling addiction or a substance abuse problem (such as alcohol or drugs).
What if a beneficiary is elderly or disabled? In some cases, a beneficiary of yours might be on some kind of government benefit program in which case inheriting large sums of money would cause said beneficiary to lose those government benefits. Then they would have to burn through their inheritance before they could get those benefits again.
You also want to make sure you appoint the proper trustees to handle the distribution of your assets responsibly and make sure that trustee can follow your rules as spelled out in your living trust. In some cases, you may choose to have distributions occur at certain ages or upon certain events. In addition to those benchmarks (age-based or otherwise), you might consider allowing the trustee additional discretionary distribution authority for purposes such as a beneficiary's health, education, or other considerations.
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