Estate Planning When You Have Minor Children

Many people come to an estate planning attorney because they have concerns about how their passing will impact their children. There are a number of issues that arise in these types of situations, such as questions about inheritances, guardianships, and more. To better understand what kind of issues you’ll have to face, let’s take a look at some essential ideas surrounding estate planning for children.


If you have minor children and decide to leave them an inheritance, there are some special considerations you will need to make. Because minor children are not considered legally capable adults, they cannot own property individually. Instead, an adult will have to own and manage any property the minor children received.

If your estate plan does not detail who is to manage the inheritance the court will have to step in to appoint a third party.  If you’re planning on leaving a child an inheritance before the child becomes an adult, you will want to consider having that property held in trust until the child comes of age. This is can be done through a testamentary trust; meaning a trust you and create through the terms of your last will and testament. There are other forms of trusts you can create that will also protect any inheritances you choose to leave to a minor child, that protects your children even when they are no longer a minor.  This may also be accomplished through the creation of your own revocable living trust.


If you are the parent or legal guardian of a child, your estate plan needs to address who you want taking care of the children should you become incapacitated or die. If there is no one else who is legally entitled to care for the child as a parent or guardian, you’ll need to make provisions for the appointment of a new guardian who will take over parenting responsibilities. The permanent selection is made through your last will and testament. However, parents and guardians have the ability to appoint temporary guardian(s).  The temporary guardian has authority to take care of the minor children until the permanent guardian can get to the children.  If you share custody or parental responsibilities with the child’s other parent, or another guardian, you should make sure that you both choose the same person as the replacement.

More Questions?

If you have more questions about setting up a Trust to reflect your values contact our office or consider attending one of our upcoming estate planning workshops.

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