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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

When to Give Your Children Their Inheritance: 4 Factors to Consider

POSTED ON: April 15, 2019

When you’re doing your estate planning, one important item to think about is at what age your children should receive the money and property you’ve left to them. Once a child becomes a legal adult at the age of 18, you could give them all of their inheritance, no strings attached. But most parents want to make sure that their children are financially savvy enough to manage an inheritance before they receive it. This becomes even more of a concern as the inheritance becomes larger.

A common strategy is to create a trust to hold property for your child and appointing a trustee to manage it for them. Once the child reaches the age you specify, the trust ends and the remaining contents of the trust are given to the beneficiary. The trust can also instruct that assets be distributed to the beneficiary in lumps like a third at age 25, a third at age 35, and a third at age 40.

Every child is unique, so what factors should you consider when determining when to give your child their inheritance?

Their maturity level
One of the most important factors to consider is your child’s maturity. There are children who can handle money well at a young age, but the truth is that most can’t. By giving them money too early, children often spend it unwisely and the money disappears before they know it. When this happens, the money won’t be available when it’s really needed for important things like health care, everyday living expenses, and education. Receiving this money at a young age also doesn’t teach your kids about the rewarding feeling of earning their own money, the strategy of budgeting, or the benefit of saving.

How they’ve managed money in the past
If your child is a little older when you’re doing your estate plan, they’ve likely demonstrated how they think about and use money. Do they save it for a rainy day? Do they spend it on items you think are important? When they buy something, do they really think through the purchase and make sure that spending the money makes sense vs. saving it or using it for some other need?

If they’re easily influenced by others
Does what other people think really have an impact on your child? For example, could someone convince your child to invest in some kind of fraudulent scheme or a bad investment? Or is your child more of an independent thinker who would diligently research an investment opportunity and seek guidance from trusted authorities before making big monetary decisions?

If you have concerns about your child having any substance abuse or gambling problems
People who experience these types of issues can have a lack of control in regard to the amount of money they spend and what they spend it on. You don’t want to give a large inheritance at one time to a child who’s likely to waste the money or even possibly use the money to harm themselves.

We can help make sure that your inheritance is distributed to your children just the way you want. Call us today at 617.299.6976 or send an email to mkarr@maheritagelawcenter.com to schedule a confidential, no-cost consultation.