Estate Planning

Estate Planning For Irresponsible Children (Complete Guide)

Ty McDuffey


If you've been thinking about your estate plan recently, you probably already have a solid sense of who you want to inherit your estate. You may wish for your estate to be left to your children or grandkids. If this is the case, you may be concerned that leaving a substantial amount of money to them may damage their long-term well-being. 

If a person inherits a huge amount of money and is not wise enough to make appropriate judgments, they may waste their inheritance.

Fortunately, estate planners may exert influence over how heirs spend their inheritance. This implies that, to some extent, you can prevent a grandchild from squandering their inheritance on frivolous activities and ensuring that they invest it sensibly by carefully drafting your will and trust.

You’ve worked hard to provide for your children. You want to make sure they are protected after you’re gone. Keep reading to find out the best ways to protect an irresponsible child’s financial future.  

Key Takeaways

  • A no-contest clause can protect your will and disinherit contentious family members.

  • Stipend inheritance payments can be made using a properly formed continuing trust that identifies a suitable successor trustee.

  • A living trust is often revocable, which means it can be altered during the trustor's lifetime to prevent squandering by irresponsible heirs. 

  • A spendthrift provision can restrict a beneficiary's interest in trust assets from being transferred to irresponsible heirs.

  • Parents can decide to leave nothing to a kid in their will by making a declaration to that effect in the will itself. 

Should No-Contest Provisions Be Included in My Will and Trust?

The last thing you want is for a family member to question your will and trust after you die. 

If you believe this is a possibility, just add a no-contest language in your estate planning paperwork. This implies that if someone contests the will or trust, they will be fully disinherited.

How Does a Trust Function?

A trust gives you more control over how and when an inheritance is handed to a child by putting a trustee in charge of administering the assets, which is sometimes a trusted friend or family. 

The trustee might alternatively be the lawyer who created the trust or a financial entity such as a bank.

Depending on your scenario, there are several methods to structure a trust:

  • Annuities: Annuities are trusts that disperse inheritances over time depending on a payment schedule that you determine. Payments are typically provided in equal quantities each year.

  • Incentive Trust: This phrase (also known as "Pay for Performance") refers to any trust in which the kid must achieve certain requirements in order to "earn" dividends. Many parents relate distributions to academic achievement, but you may be as creative as you like. Some parents want to tie payouts to more personal life objectives or charitable service.

  • Income-matching trust: In this situation, annual payments are provided in an amount equal to or a percentage of the child's earned income.

What's the Difference Between Stipend and Lump Sum Payments for Irresponsible Heirs?

You may be concerned that designing a trust to offer a stipend rather than a flat sum is cruel. However, such a legacy frequently proves a lot more favorable memory—even for an older successor.

Assume you and your partner are 85 years old. You sit down with your 49-year-old daughter. She's worked hard her entire life, but she's never been good with money and hasn't saved anything. She is exhausted and does not want to work forever, but she is concerned about her retirement. 

Assume you tell her, "Listen, honey, we're establishing a trust. After we're gone, this trust will give you $1,000 every month for the rest of your life."

Consider how happy that would make her. "Wait a minute, $1,000 a month for the rest of my life? That's fantastic! Thanks very much, Mom & Dad!"

Then, every month, when the money from your Living Trust arrives in her bank account, your daughter remembers Mom and Dad fondly. You may rest easy knowing that she will have something to live on no matter what happens in her lifetime.

On the other hand, if you just gave her $200,000 in cash, it would be a one-time occurrence. She could make a bad investment or worse. You and the lump money will be a distant memory in ten years.

Such arrangements can be established through the use of a properly formed continuing Trust that identifies a suitable successor Trustee—a person, private fiduciary, or bank. You might also simply purchase an annuity that gives her a monthly payout. Discuss these possibilities with your attorney and financial planner when developing an estate plan.

The same optimistic attitude should be applied to other heirs for whom you build a bucket with a "spigot." You may generate a significant financial advantage by maintaining money in a Trust Fund for a child's inheritance that is correctly managed to increase over time.

If you believe it is prudent to withhold funds from an heir until they are twenty-five, thirty-five, or older, you may and should phrase this arrangement positively.

This procedure enables parents to offer monetary rewards to their children without leaving them with a big sum that may be easily squandered. And there's no need to bring up their lack of trustworthiness. All they will perceive is the trust fund's assistance.

Consider a trust with delayed distribution as a caterpillar that grows into a butterfly over time.

What About Assets that Aren't Monetary?

You can also provide for your children with non-monetary assets. 

For example, you may leave a house in trust to ensure that your child always enjoys the security and comfort of having a place to live. (To prevent your child from selling the property for cash, place it in a trust that requires the proceeds from any sale to be reinvested in another house.)

You can even designate your child's inheritance to be used to pay off college loans or a mortgage. However, double-check for any early payment penalties.

When it comes to leaving money to your children, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. You must carefully analyze their demands in the context of their personality and maturity level.

However, given we're talking about irresponsible kids, you might want to put the house in a trust that requires any money from its sale to be reinvested in another house.

Is a Living Trust Effective in Preventing Careless Behavior?

Even though a will specifies how your belongings will be divided, many families find that trusts are a superior alternative. Trusts are an important estate planning mechanism because they allow you to place assets such as cash, real estate, and other acquisitions into the account throughout your life.

There are 2 types of trusts: 

  1. Testamentary trusts

  2. Living trusts

Your will forms a testamentary trust after your passing, but a living trust is updated throughout your life.

Living trusts are often revocable, which means they can be altered during the trustor's life and becomes effective upon the trustor's passing. 

Living trusts, unlike wills, don’t have to pass through probate court. Assets can be transferred to your designated recipients instantly and directly.

How Can a Trust Help an Unreliable Heir?

When you establish a trust, you delegate authority to another entity (your trustee) to manage your assets to benefit your beneficiaries. You might appoint a trustworthy family member as your trustee. Your lawyer or bank might serve as your trustee.

Comprehending living trusts is a vital step in protecting your assets against misappropriation. When your assets are under a trust, they are secure against imprudent spending by a beneficiary and any other family members or in-laws who might try to misappropriate your assets.

What Are the Different Types of Trust Structures?

Trust assets can be transferred to your kids in installments, providing you some influence over how they are used. There are numerous methods to form a trust, depending on your economic and familial status.

  • Trust based on age: You can designate the allocation of the trust based on your child's age.

  • Annuities: The estate is divided over time according to a timetable that you create using this form of trust.

  • Pay for performance trust: These trusts permit you to specify the requirements your kids must satisfy to get their inheritance. It might be obtaining a degree, reaching certain life objectives, or whatever you think fits.

  • Income-matching investing trust: This trust matches yearly payouts to all or a portion of your children’s earned salary.

What Is a Spendthrift Provision?

Another solution to the difficulty of estate planning for an untrustworthy heir is to incorporate a condition in your trust known as the "spendthrift provision." A spendthrift provision restricts a beneficiary's interest in trust assets from being transferred.

The trustee is directed by a spendthrift trust on how to disburse the beneficiary's portion of the estate. Paying just for a beneficiary's essential living necessities or giving only restricted deposits directly to the beneficiary are examples of limitations.

If the recipient has a record of mishandling funds or addictive behaviors, a spendthrift trust may be beneficial.

Each spendthrift provision is tailored to the trustor's own choices. For instance, the provision may provide for the preservation of trust assets if your kid divorces. 

In rare situations, the trustee of a spendthrift trust might deprive a beneficiary of benefits. The payments might be provided to another recipient instead of that child later.

The trust document might also provide that the trustee only pays payments on behalf of the beneficiary and may withhold direct cash payments from the beneficiary.

The extent to which a spendthrift provision provides protection varies by state. Some states, for example, enable creditors to access a trust containing these stipulations. Under the clause, certain state regulations also allow for child support payments or alimony.

To get the best potential protection, be as explicit as possible about how your assets will be dispersed. 

Here are a couple of such examples:

  1. Only if your kid is employed or making continuous strides toward becoming fully employed will distributions be paid.

  2. Payments are not to be utilized for specific objects, such as a vehicle, unless the beneficiary can afford to maintain the vehicle.

Every spendthrift provision must be properly drafted to avoid putting the trustee in an uncomfortable situation. 

A too-stringent provision may prohibit your child from receiving funds when there is a legitimate need. 

However, an excessively lenient clause forces a trustee to deal with an irate heir seeking their assets.

How Do I Create a Spendthrift Trust for a Reckless Child?

Your attorney will assist you in creating a spendthrift trust that meets your specific situation. Here are some inquiries to be prepared to answer:

  1. When/under what conditions would you like the trust to expire?

  2. What should happen to the trust principle if a beneficiary's circumstances change?

  3. Do you wish to make special payments if the recipient has a high expenditure, such as a protracted sickness or college education?

You've labored to ensure your family is cared for today and tomorrow. 

Nobody likes to worry about their assets going missing in a few years because of an heir's irresponsible spending or unwise lifestyle choices. Spendthrift trusts can provide you with both safety and independence.

Is it Possible to Disinherit a Child?

Parents can choose to leave nothing to an adult kid. 

Younger children may be entitled to a portion of their parent's inheritance if it appears that the parent simply neglected them—for example, by failing to make a new will after the child's birth—but the conditions are restricted and depend on state law.

If you decide not to leave anything to a kid in your will, make a declaration to that effect in the will itself. 

You are not required to explain your argument. Simply mention each of your children in the will and indicate that failure to provide for them in the will is purposeful.

Protecting Inheritance with a Prenuptial Agreement

For many families, this is a touchy matter. 

You cannot create a prenuptial agreement for your irresponsible child and their soon-to-be spouse. Instead, you'll have to explain to your child why a prenuptial agreement is necessary to preserve their assets in the case of divorce. Some families even insist on a prenuptial (or postnuptial) agreement if the child wishes to inherit the money.

Discussing a prenuptial agreement with your child might be unpleasant or uncomfortable. If you want to assist your child in drafting a prenuptial agreement before they marry, seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney. Prenuptial agreements are highly disputed papers; thus, they must be correctly completed.

How Can Trustworthy Help?

Estate planning for an irresponsible child is a lot of work. You have to manage an uncomfortable family situation, all while keeping track of scores of important documents and letters. 

Trustworthy helps people in these situations by providing a cloud-based platform where family members can store important documents in one safe place. 

Ditch your file cabinets and piled-up desks. Start your free 14-day trial with Trustworthy today.