Should You Put Your Adult Child’s Inheritance In Trust?

Whether you should add a trust to your will to manage your adult child’s inheritance is one of the questions to think about when you are doing your estate planning.  This article will help you with the issues to consider, starting with the most obvious.

Disabled Child

If your child is disabled, you should run—not walk—to an attorney familiar with disability issues.  The attorney will help you put a “special needs” trust in your will.  The special needs trust will prevent the assets you leave your child from disqualifying your child from receiving government benefits.


Any inheritance you leave outright to a child with an addiction problem will most likely be used to fuel the addiction.  If, instead, you leave your child’s inheritance in a trust, the trustee will be able to use the money for your child’s basic needs and not his destructive behavior.


A large number of honest, bright people with big hearts and many other good qualities cannot put off today’s gratification for tomorrow’s goal.  They are never able to save for a rainy day and are often short at the end of the month.  If they receive a large sum of money, it will be spent almost immediately.   Many parents in this situation use a trust so a trustee can protect the principal of the child’s inheritance and pay the child income.  That way when the child has a true life emergency, the inheritance will be there and the trustee can meet the child’s needs.

Everyone Else.  Even if your child has managed to avoid the above pitfalls of life, you may want to consider a trust to hold his or her inheritance.  Putting a child’s inheritance in trust will make it less likely that your child will lose the inheritance if he or she gets divorced.  It will also protect the inheritance from your child’s creditors if your child loses a job or has some other unanticipated financial setback.  The trustee will invest the principal of the inheritance, give the income to your child and be able to apply the principal to your child’s serious needs.  Also, if you put your child’s inheritance in trust, it makes it more likely that something will be left to go to your grandchildren.


A trust may or may not make sense in your child’s situation but you should review the pros and cons with an experienced estate planning attorney.  The decision you make may have a profound impact on your child’s long-term welfare.

Elizabeth A. Perry, a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, has been helping Clark County residents with their estate planning needs for over 20 years. Her practice emphasizes wills, trusts, probate and Medicaid planning. You are invited to call her to schedule an appointment or sign up for a class at (360) 816-2485. ©Liz Perry 2015

(The above should not be construed as specific legal advice and is intended for general information purposes only)

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