It doesn't take an experienced estate planner to say so, but "the love of money is the root of all evil." Unfortunately money bears with it the potential for good and bad ends alike. And, unearned money (read an "inheritance"), can be a blessing or a curse.
An experienced estate planner can help your loved ones lean to the positive when it comes to the inheritance you leave them. When it comes to trust money, and inheritances in general, you need to find a balance that will help your children become the people you know they can be.
For some solid tips check out the 5 trust fund rules to help children, as set forth in a recent article in The Fiscal Times . The balance these rules help to create, as so aptly put by Warren Buffet, give your children "enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing." So, let's review a few of these "rules of the road," so to speak.
Carrots and Sticks. A trust need not just leave money; but it can be a tool. By building the appropriate provisions, you can offer certain tests and incentives to guide your heirs towards positive goals. You earned your money through hard work and, likewise, the trust can help foster similar lessons as you see fit.
Timing. The funds in a trust can be made readily available or made available over time, with or without incentive goals. After all, you might not want to lock a child into set goals (you might not know enough about which goals are appropriate for them), but you might want to keep their access to the funds at pace consistent with their age and maturity. Generally speaking, such an approach generally is a solid bet. It can give a sense of security, without instilling laziness, too.
Money Isn’t everything. In keeping with the above, consider using the conditions that surround the trust (i.e., your death) as an opportunity to provide your wisdom through your own letters or videotapes of success stores, so that the trust fund is opened as your words are received. Against this backdrop, I highly recommend an excellent family film to share with your loved ones called "The Ultimate Gift." [Be sure to stock up on tissues.]
That's only three of the five rules. For the other two, read the original article.
Regardless, the time to act is now.
The issues surrounding how to create the trust are worth mulling over, but just as important is the planning that goes into creating the trust and the correct timing to maximize its value. You can make good use of this timing given the present generous state of our estate and gift tax law, along with the currently depressed asset values.
Again, whether it's thinking about the funds to put in the trust or the future of the inheritor, there's no time like the present to plan!
Reference: The Fiscal Times (September 20, 2011) "5 Trust Fund Rules That Can Really Help Children"