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Many people want to ensure their kids have what they need financially if they pass away while their children are minors. Creating a trust allows parents to set their children up for future success.

When properly structured, this estate planning instrument offers benefits like asset protection, distribution control, and the ability to provide for special needs.

Establishing an effective trust requires working closely with an estate planning attorney to evaluate options and make consequential decisions on trust type, trustees, assets, and customized terms.

While the process involves some upfront effort, the long-term benefits for loved ones are significant.

Why Consider Setting Up a Trust for Your Child?

Parents devote time, energy, and resources to providing the best opportunities for their children’s growth and success. Part of planning for a child’s future may involve setting aside financial assets to help with significant expenses or supplement their income as adults.

Structuring these plans in a trust allows parents to exert more control and protection.

Protect Assets

Revocable, irrevocable, and other trusts help insulate estate assets from threats like lawsuits, creditors, divorce proceedings, or other financial claims. This safeguard ensures money remains available for the child’s needs rather than being drained away to settle claims. Parents can have confidence that assets placed in trust will remain to provide financial support according to their wishes.

Control When Assets Are Accessible

Trusts allow grantors to establish customized rules that define when a child can access funds and give direction to the trustee on when a distribution should be made to or for the benefit of a child. Parents may set terms enabling access at ages they deem appropriate to pay expenses like:

  • Educational costs for school or college
  • Housing purchases or income for rentals
  • Entrepreneurial ventures like starting a business
  • Living expenses during early adulthood

Parents can exert significant control to align trust fund access with attaining these impactful financial milestones while limiting withdrawals for less meaningful purposes.

Provide for Special Needs

Parents caring for a child with disabilities can establish a special needs trust to be allowed continued access to government financial benefits while financially supplementing needs in excess of those government benefits. With careful setup, trust assets can help cover costs to support the child without reducing essential aid programs.

By properly establishing a trust, these protections and controls provide compelling reasons for parents to secure a child’s future through trust vehicles rather than simply gifting money.

What to Consider Before Establishing a Trust in Alabama

To draft an effective trust that is aligned with your family’s needs, you should consider working closely with an estate planning lawyer to evaluate specialized options and make necessary decisions.

Choosing the Right Trust Type

Several trust structures with differing rules and implications are available in Alabama.

Common options include:

  • Revocable Living Trust: Assets remain under the parent’s control and are subject to modifications during life; transfers to beneficiaries occur after death.
  • Irrevocable Trust: Relinquishes control of assets to the trust; beneficiaries receive assets according to fixed terms that grantors cannot change. May be used for tax planning with high net-worth estates.
  • Testamentary Trust: Created and funded through instructions in a person’s will; serves needs after death. Helpful as a failsafe for minor heirs.
  • Special Needs Trust: Expressly created to benefit disabled beneficiaries without reducing government aid. Maintains quality of life without impacting eligibility.

An attorney can explore which trust type or combination of trusts best aligns with family asset protection objectives, beneficiary needs, control preferences, tax minimization goals, etc.

Identifying a Trustee

Choosing the right trustee to manage trust assets and administer the trust is essential – factors to weigh include professional capabilities, fee structure, familiarity with trust beneficiaries, and understanding of intentions for the trust.

Parents can designate individuals like family members or friends or institutions like banks, law firms, accountants, and trust companies to serve as trustees. Discuss options and considerations thoroughly with your legal counsel.

The Biggest Mistakes Parents Make When Setting Up a Trust Fund

Creating a trust can be a wise way to secure your child’s financial future, but there are some common pitfalls to avoid, like:

  1. Failing to clearly define the purpose and terms of the trust can lead to misuse of funds or disputes down the line.
  2. Not working with experienced professionals, such as attorneys and financial advisors, can result in costly mistakes or even render the trust invalid.
  3. Neglecting to review and update the trust as circumstances change can undermine its effectiveness.
  4. Not selecting the right trustee who shares your values and can properly manage the assets can jeopardize the trust’s intentions.

Proper planning, professional guidance, and open dialogue are key to setting up a successful trust fund for your loved ones.

Are You Ready to Secure Your Child’s Future?

Consult our estate planning attorneys for guidance on trust solutions tailored to your family.
At the Law Office of Brenton C. McWilliams, we help Alabama families make key trust goals, terms, and structure decisions.
Contact us for guidance based on your specific circumstances and objectives.