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East Lansing Michigan Estate Planning to Protect Minor Children

Can you protect minor children with an estate plan?

married couple with their children

Your estate plan offers a number of protections for minor children, which is why it’s so important for families in Michigan to have a comprehensive estate plan. While no one likes to think about parents dying young and leaving children alone in the world, these things do happen. Estate planning attorney Nick Leydorf works with families to ensure that children have the protection they deserve.

Who is considered to be a minor child in Michigan?

A minor child in Michigan is a person who is under the age of 18. Until they reach the age of legal majority, minor children cannot inherit assets and must be under the care of an adult. If their parents die, a guardian must be appointed to care for the child until they turn 18.

What are the steps to protecting a minor child with an estate plan?

Name a Personal Guardian in Your Last Will and Testament

Each parent needs to have their own will, and each parent needs to name each other as the preferred guardian in case one parent dies. Their wills should also name a back-up guardian in the will, which should be the same person. A secondary back-up guardian should be included as well.

If this sounds overly burdensome, consider what would happen to the children if no guardians were named. The court would make a decision as to guardianship, and there is no guarantee the child’s guardian will be a family member or someone known to the child. Having several back-up guardians ensures your child will be raised by someone you know and trust.

Who Should Become my Child’s Guardian?

This decision is as difficult as naming an executor, the person who carries out the instructions in your will. Consider the following:

  • Where do you want your children to live? If you live far from other family members, will your children need to be uprooted?
  • Do you have siblings who live nearby and could raise your child? Do your children get along with their cousins, or would there be problems?
  • Grandparents are not always able to keep up with toddlers or teens. Even a “young” grandparent now may not live long enough to get an infant child through the storms of adolescence.
  • Do you want your children to receive religious instruction, and in what faith? Will your named guardian be likely to carry out your wishes?
  • Will the person you name as guardian be able to share your values with your child?

Can My Child’s Guardian Also Manage Their Inheritance?

In many cases, the same person who could be a great guardian might not have the financial skills needed to manage an inheritance, especially if it needs to last for your child’s lifetime. Naming a trustee to be in charge of the trust is an option. The person should be someone you know to be responsible and who will act in the best interest of your child.

How Do I Protect My Child’s Inheritance?

In Michigan, minor children may not directly own property, inherit property or make contracts. If parents die without a will, the court will have to decide who should manage the money for the child. Court-supervised inheritance is never simple, nor is it inexpensive.

Setting up a trust for children

A trust for a minor is often the best way to provide for a child when the parents have passed.

There are many different types of trusts that can be set up, each with their own unique benefits.

The most important thing to remember when setting up a trust is to make sure that the child's best interests are always kept in mind.

Trustees for Minor Children

married couple with their children

When you set up a trust for minor children, you'll need to name a trustee to manage the money on behalf of your children. The trustee can be anyone you choose, but it's often best to select someone who is financially responsible and has your children's best interests at heart.

You'll also need to specify how you want the money in the trust to be used. For example, you may want the money to be used for your children's education or for their everyday living expenses. You can also decide when you want the money to be distributed, such as when your children reach a certain age or get married.

Creating a trust for minor children can be a complex process, so it's important to seek professional legal advice to ensure that your trust is created correctly.

By naming a trustee and specifying your wishes for the child’s lifestyle, you can rest assured the child will have the education and recreational opportunities you’d want.

Trusts for minor children accomplish several goals:

  • The trustee manages the child’s money without needing supervision or intervention by the court
  • A trust for a minor can be designed to set aside a certain amount of money for the child’s college education, or make distributions as the child reaches certain milestones in life, like graduating from college, staying employed for a certain amount of time, etc.
  • An 18 year old may be legally an adult, but few 18 year olds are able to manage a large unrestricted inheritance. Placing their money in a trust protects the young adult from squandering the money or from being taken advantage of by scammers.
  • A trust can be designed to protect a child with special needs from losing government benefits.
  • A trust can continue after the death of the first parent, ensuring that there are funds available for the second spouse in the event of an untimely death.

In short, trusts give parents peace of mind, knowing that their children will be taken care

Planning for the Future with Confidence

No one knows what the future holds, but by taking the time to plan for your children's future, you can have peace of mind knowing that they will be taken care of if something happens to you.

When it comes to protecting minor children, estate planning is one of the most important things you can do. By creating a trust for your children, you can ensure that their financial needs will be taken care of if something happens to you. Trusts for minor children can be complex, so it's important to seek professional legal advice to ensure that your trust is created correctly. With the help of a qualified attorney, you can plan for your children's future with confidence.

We invite you to call Nick Leydorf to discuss the estate planning process, and how you can protect your minor children through an estate plan. Book a call with us now.

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Leydorf Law Firm, PLLC serves people with legal needs throughout Michigan, with offices in Okemos, DeWitt, Grand Ledge and Williamston.
Nick Leydorf is ready to help you with estate planning and elder law. Let Leydorf Law Firm, PLLC put our experience and diligent legal representation to work for you. Contact us today to learn how Leydorf Law Firm, PLLC can help you.
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