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Trusts can support children if a parent is lost

During the estate planning process, most Ohio parents focus on how their assets will be distributed upon their death, which is an event that is projected to occur far in the future. In reality, however, no one knows when their time is up, and not everyone will live to a ripe old age in which assets will pass down to adult children and grandchildren. Parents must plan for the unlikely event that they pass on while their children are still minors, and then adjust that planning once the youngest has reached the age of majority. In doing so, trusts are a very flexible planning tool and provide a good fit for many families.

A revocable trust gives parents the ability to customize how a child would receive his or her inheritance. Provisions can be made that cover a child's financial needs as they grow, but that avoid a lump-sum payout when the child reaches the age of 18. Most young people do not have advanced decision-making skills at such a young age, and no parent wants to risk that a child might squander his or her inheritance soon after it is received.

As such, a trust can be structured that will provide for educational expenses, a down payment on a home or an initial investment in a child's business venture. The remaining funds can be distributed at predetermined points over the course of a child's life. Trusts can be as specific as the family wishes, and an inheritance can even be withheld if a child does not complete college or meet another predetermined goal.

Best of all, a revocable trust can be altered at any time during an Ohio resident's lifetime. This means that once all children have reached adulthood, a new estate planning approach can be devised. Trusts are just one of the ways that family members can look after the needs of their children. While thinking about one's early demise is not a pleasant endeavor, that discomfort is offset in the knowledge that one's children would be properly cared for in the unlikely event of an early death.

Source: thespectrum.com, "Estate planning important when children, grandchildren are involved", Scott Halvorsen, Sept. 27, 2015

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