Your children have always meant the world to you. You've done everything within your power to meet all their needs and ward off dangers.
You've always kept a watchful eye out for them, whether it's when they were swimming in the ocean or wandering too close to the edge of the Grand Canyon.
You've met their needs, from putting food on the table to buying them new clothes for school.
We cannot protect our children from every risk in life. When they grow up, they will make some mistakes, just as we did.
But, we can afford them some financial protection by leaving their inheritance in trust.
A trust can help because it holds legal title to assets, even though as beneficiary, your child will hold beneficial title.
By leaving your assets to your child in a "family access trust," he or she could still get at the assets at any time. He could even remove all the assets from the trust, if desired.
But, while the assets remain in the trust, it protects the assets from your child's divorcing spouse and, in most states, keeps your child's future ex-spouse from taking your child's inheritance.
However, a family access trust will not act to protect the assets from other creditors of your child.
In order to accomplish that goal, you would utilize a "family sentry trust," which is a discretionary trust for the benefit of your child.
Distributions to your child would be made by the person you appoint to make decisions for the trust. That person is known as the "trustee."
Your child could be a co-trustee, but could not act alone to make distributions. Your child could be named as the investment trustee and, in that capacity, could direct how the assets would get invested.
A family sentry trust protects your child from most of their creditors, depending upon the state. An added benefit is that, with a family sentry trust, the assets are not taxed to your child's estate for estate tax purposes.
You've spent your life building your legacy, which will become your children's inheritance. You can keep that inheritance from being attacked by their future ex-spouses or other creditors.
A qualified estate-planning attorney can help you provide for your children, and not their creditors.
Robert J. Kulas is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been engaged in the practice of law in Florida for the last 23 years. For more information or to attend an upcoming seminar, call 398-0720.