Many people would like to think that estate planning is a piece of cake: choose your beneficiaries, write up a simple will, and voila – you’re done! The truth is that while estate planning can sometimes be achieved with this amount of simplicity, most of the time there’s more to it than that—a lot more—especially if you have any variables or special circumstances to consider. Variables and special circumstances can encompass just about anything, including:
- Young children
- Adult children with differing financial needs
- Adult children who don’t get along
- A child, parent or sibling with special needs
- A second (or third) marriage
And according to this article in the Chicago Tribune special circumstances also include:
- A non-citizen spouse
- A much younger spouse
- Health concerns
One of the best tools you have in your estate planning toolbox to deal with any or all of these “special circumstances” is to distribute your assets through a trust rather than just a simple will. A trust is comprehensive, plus it gives you the flexibility to you need to provide for every circumstance—even if these circumstances change after your death.
For example, parents with three children ages 21, 17 and 15 would likely not want to split their estate evenly, especially considering that they’ve likely already paid for the 21-year old’s college education, but have yet to pay for college for the 17 and 15 year olds. These parents can place their assets into a common trust which can be used to pay for the needs of all the children at the discretion of the trustee, and then split into separate and equal trusts when the youngest child reaches the age of 21, or when all have graduated from college.
Very few families fit the simple “boiler-plate” description, and even fewer families will benefit from a boiler-plate estate plan. Our office can help you craft exactly the estate plan you need to fit your family’s unique and special circumstances—right now, and years in the future.