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Leaving Assets to Your Kids? What’s the Best Way?


by Melanie Hammelman, Attorney, Hammelman Law


If you have children, you have probably thought about a will. Or maybe you even have one to choose the guardian for them. However, have you thought about what happens to the assets they stand to inherit after you’re gone? In some cases, the assets you leave them aren’t as protected as you think.

You can either leave them in a Custodial Account or in a Trust. The main difference is the ownership of the accounts. The beneficiaries (kids) own the custodial account and have full access to all the assets at a stated age, whereas the trust owns the assets it holds and there is more accountability for distribution.

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Custodial Accounts
With a custodial account, the beneficiaries (kids) own the account and have full access to all the assets at a stated age. When the child named in the custodial account becomes an adult (at whatever age you choose), he or she is free to spend that money any way he or she sees fit. That means they can use it to pay for college, put a down payment on a house, or blow it all on a fancy new car.

Trust
A Trust Fund is not only for families with millions whose kids go to private school. A trust not only provides the person giving the money (you) with more control, but it offers greater asset protection for the beneficiaries (kids) also. Since the trust owns the assets, once you pass the trust keeps the assets protected from creditors and potential divorce or separation proceedings of your kids in the future. You get to set the terms of the trust and determine at what ages, life events, or other intervals assets are to be dispersed. You also get to choose how much they get at every interval, either a dollar amount or a percentage of the available assets. You can also impose additional restrictions, such as attending an institution of higher education or securing employment before your kids would be eligible for a distribution.


Hammelman Law, PLLC handles estate planning and business law matters in Northern Virginia and Maryland. In Virginia, they are given the title of Attorney and Counselor at Law. Melanie Hammelman takes not only the title of Attorney seriously, but the title of Counselor at Law, as well. Melanie provides her clients with advice and counseling as to the best options for an estate plan, given the specific family situation and ultimate desire for asset distribution.

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