Do I Need a Testamentary Trust For My Children?

Probably, if your children are minors or young adults, of if they suffer substance abuse, or evidence a pattern of reckless decision-making, or are meeting other challenges with a money-management component.

Control of large sums of money seldom helps young people.  The human brain does not reach its full adult potential until individuals are approximately twenty-five years of age.  All of us look back to adolescence and young adulthood as times riddled with numerous improvident decisions.  Access to funds can skew a young person’s motivation, educational choices, spousal selection, and risk taking.  Control of substantial funds can make a young person a target for unscrupulous persons.  Unless your children have matured early, or possess inordinate maturity for their age, you may need to employ a testamentary trust to interpose a more mature decision-maker (your trustee) between your children and your money.

A testamentary children’s trust gives the portion of your estate which you designate to a person you trust, and (hopefully) who knows your children well, to manage on behalf of and for the benefit of your children.  The trustee makes decisions about what funds should be distributed for the health, education, and welfare of your children, and then distributes the remaining trust funds to your children in stages (so your children can make initial money mistakes without squandering their entire inheritance).  A testamentary children’s trust is a highly flexible instrument that should be customized to the specific needs of your family.