Q: Can I leave my 401(k) to my minor children when I die?
A: Dear Pondering:
Though you can technically name a minor child as a beneficiary of your 401(k), IRA, or other employment-sponsored retirement accounts, it’s never a good idea. Minor children cannot inherit the account until they reach the age of majority—which can be as old as 21 in some states.
If a minor is listed as the beneficiary, upon your death, your retirement account would be distributed to a court-appointed custodian, who will manage the funds (often for a fee) until the age of majority. If you want your child to inherit your retirement account, you should set up a trust to receive those assets instead.
You can then name a trustee to manage the account until your child comes of age. By doing so, you get to choose not only who would manage your child’s money, but within the trust’s terms, you can stipulate how and when the account’s funds...
When creating an estate plan, people are often most concerned with passing on the “big things” like real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles. Yet these possessions very often aren’t the items that have the most meaning for the loved ones we leave behind.
Smaller items, like family heirlooms and keepsakes, which may not have a high dollar value, frequently have the most sentimental value for our family members. But for a number of reasons, these personal possessions are often not specifically accounted for in wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents.
However, it’s critical that you don’t overlook this type of property in your estate plan, as the distribution of such items can become a source of intense conflict and strife for those you leave behind. In fact, if you don’t properly address family heirlooms and keepsakes in your estate plan, it can lead to long-lasting disagreements that can tear your family apart....
Because estate planning involves actively thinking about and planning for frightening topics like death, old age, and chronic disability, many people put it off or simply ignore it all together until it’s too late. Sadly, this unwillingness to face reality often creates serious hardship, expense, and trauma for those loved ones you leave behind.
To complicate matters, the recent proliferation of online estate planning document services, such as LegalZoom®, Rocket Lawyer®, and Trustandwill.com, may have misled you into thinking that estate planning is a do-it-yourself (DIY) affair, which involves nothing more than filling out the right legal forms. However, proper estate planning entails far more than filling out legal forms.
In fact, without a thorough understanding of how the legal process works upon your death or incapacity and applies specifically to your family dynamics and the nature of your assets, you’ll likely make serious mistakes when...
As a parent, you’re likely hoping to leave your children an inheritance. In fact, doing so may be one of the primary factors motivating your life’s work. But without taking the proper precautions, the wealth you pass on is at serious risk of being accidentally lost or squandered due to common life events, such as divorce, serious debt, devastating illness, and unfortunate accidents.
In some cases, a sudden inheritance windfall can even wind up doing your kids more harm than good.
Creating a will or a revocable living trust offers some protection for your kid’s inheritance, but in most cases, you’ll be guided to distribute assets through your will or trust to your children at specific ages and stages, such as one-third at age 25, half the balance at 30, and the rest at 35.
If you’ve created an estate plan, check to see if this is how your will or trust leaves assets to your children. If so, you may not have been told...
3 Estate Planning Issues For LGBTQ Couples—Part 2
Whether you are married, in a committed partnership, or buying homes with chosen family (platonic or otherwise), estate planning is about much more than planning for death—it's about planning for life. It's the way to ensure your beloved will be protected and provided for in the event of your death or incapacity. As members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it's more important for us and our families to get a handle on our estates than anyone.
Although marriage equality (for the LGBTQIA+ community) is legally recognized in all 50 states, long-held prejudice at both the political and family level continues to create complications for both married and unmarried queer families. For example, suppose you have family members who are opposed to your marriage/chosen family living situations. In that case, your estate plan may be more likely to be disputed or even sabotaged by unsupportive relatives. This...