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How Long Should I Delay My Children’s Inheritance?


Many Florida residents make an estate plan when their children are still young. But even if you have children who are now all grown up, you might still think they are not ready to handle a large inheritance from your estate should something happen to you right now. So what are your options for delaying an inheritance?

It’s a mistake to assume that once you die, your property must be distributed to your heirs right away. You do have the right to keep the money in your estate or trust for an extended period of time. For example, let’s say you have a son who is 18 and just starting college. You know you have a substantial estate, and that he’s probably not in the best position to handle that much money if he simply inherited it in one lump sum.

One option in this scenario is to divide any inheritance over a period of several years. For instance, your will or trust could contain a clause that says your son inherits one-half of your estate when he turns 25, and the remaining half when he turns 30. You could even split up the inheritance to three pieces: one-third at age 21, one-third at age 25, and one-third at age 30. Such language is legally binding on your estate, so your son will have to wait until he reached the specified benchmark ages.

A second option is to give your property to a trustee with specific instructions that limit your child’s ability to control (or potentially squander) the money. There is actually a special kind of trust, known as a spendthrift trust, that you can use to protect your assets from going to (most of) your child’s creditors. Even without a spendthrift trust, however, you can still direct your trustee to use trust property for specific purposes–such as paying for your child’s college education–without leaving everything to the child outright.

Get Advice from a Lee County, Florida, Estate Planning Attorney

It’s important to keep in mind that if you do impose any conditions on your child’s inheritance, it will extend the time it takes to administer your estate or trust, in some cases by several years or even decades. Not only does this represent an added expense, but it may brew resentment among your children. So you need to consider the financial and emotional impact on your family of your estate planning decisions. You also need to ask yourself: Are there good reasons for delaying my child’s inheritance, or am I simply trying to micromanage their lives from beyond the grave?

If you need help in answering this question, your first step should be to speak with an experienced Fort Myers estate planning lawyer who can walk you through the process of making a will or trust. Contact the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our estate planning team.

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