Navigating Your Child’s Inheritance Through Trusts


In the modern age, a transformation is underway in the realm of inheritance. Wealthy families are reshaping the conversation around inheritance, a shift that isn’t exclusive to the ultra-rich but relevant for households across various economic spectrums.

To be explicit, the message echoing among these families is twofold. Firstly, children shouldn’t presume they will inherit all of their parents’ wealth. Secondly, even if they do, the inheritance might come with conditions or be deferred.

Underlying Concerns: Safeguarding Legacies

Why this sudden reevaluation of inheritance? The reasons are multifaceted but not necessarily surprising.

  • Financial Prudence: A growing concern among parents is the potential mishandling of inheritance by their children. Without adequate financial understanding, some children may deplete their inherited wealth rapidly, especially if they lean towards lavish spending. This lack of financial prudence can risk the essence of the legacy and might lead to future financial challenges.
  • Lifestyle Choices: Many parents are wary of how inheritance might influence their children’s lifestyles. A sudden financial boost can sometimes fuel choices that may deviate from the family’s values or principles. This influx can inadvertently support decisions that parents might find excessive or even potentially risky, underlining the need for thoughtful inheritance planning.
  • Motivation and Ambition: A significant inheritance brings with it concerns about affecting a child’s personal ambition. Parents often fear that a substantial early inheritance might dampen their child’s drive to achieve on their own. The security such an inheritance offers could lead to complacency, posing a challenge for parents aiming to instill values of hard work and self-driven achievement in their children.

Esteemed investor Warren Buffett aptly captures this sentiment, suggesting that the ideal amount to bequeath children should empower them to pursue any dream, but not so much that they lose the motivation to do anything meaningful.

The Trust Solution: Structuring Inheritance With Precision

For families that are not in the billionaire bracket, the primary concern often revolves around the timing of the inheritance. And that’s where trusts come into play.

By establishing a trust, parents can tailor the terms of inheritance to their precise wishes, ensuring that the child’s financial future aligns with their vision. Here are some mechanisms that trusts offer:

  • Age-Stipulated Distributions: Unlike a will that executes posthumously, a trust can dictate the age at which a child can access the principal amount—be it at 25, 30, or even later. Until then, they might only be entitled to the income generated by the trust’s assets.
  • Gradual Payouts: Trust agreements can mandate that disbursements occur over a predetermined number of years, ensuring sustained financial support.
  • Purpose-Based Distributions: Trusts can specify fund usage. For instance, parents can earmark funds strictly for “health, maintenance, welfare, and education.”
  • Spendthrift Clauses: In certain jurisdictions, trusts can incorporate clauses that prevent the beneficiary from leveraging the trust’s assets as collateral, safeguarding the fund’s longevity.
  • Incentive Trusts: These innovative trusts can match or even double the beneficiary’s earned income. They can also be conditioned upon certain achievements, like acquiring a degree or maintaining steady employment.

The Role of a Trustee: Expertise and Objectivity

A trustee is responsible for astutely managing the trust’s assets and ensuring the trust’s terms are executed flawlessly. Selecting a trustee is thus a pivotal decision.

Appointing a professional trustee such as Legacy Private Trust Company assures trust funds are managed adeptly. Additionally, it sidesteps the potential awkwardness that might arise if a close family member or friend had to mediate between the beneficiary’s desires and the trust’s stipulations.

Scheduling an appointment with a trust officer is recommended to delve deeper into how a trust can work for your family and to acquaint yourself with the plethora of options available. To explore what Legacy Private Trust Company offers regarding trust services, visit our website.

If you are a Legacy client and have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Legacy advisor. If you are not a Legacy client and are interested in learning more about our approach to personalized wealth management, please contact us at 920.967.5020 or

This newsletter is provided for informational purposes only.
It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.  

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