You’ve worked hard and saved diligently, hoping to leave something behind for your children. And while you may love you son- or daughter-in-law like your own child, it can be natural to wonder if there are ways to ensure the wealth you pass on stays with your own child.
While the topic may initially seem jarring, it’s something many parents who leave significant wealth to their children consider at one point or another. That’s because once you pass assets to your child outright, their spouse typically has an equal legal right to those assets.
But there are ways to leave money to your kids and not their spouses. Here are a few common methods.
SET UP A TRUST
One of the easiest ways to shield your assets is to pass them to your child through a trust. The trust can be created today if you want to give money to your child now, or it can be created in your will and go into effect after you are gone.
The trust can receive investment assets and can be named beneficiary of your retirement accounts and/or life insurance.
The terms of the trust will direct the trustee how much of the income and principal should be distributed to or for the benefit of your son or daughter. In order to minimize the access your child’s spouse might have, the trust can direct the trustee to pay expenses for your child rather than make cash distributions directly to him or her.
HAVE YOUR CHILD ESTABLISH A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT
Prenuptial agreements don’t carry the same type of stigma they may have had in the past. In fact, more and more young people are signing prenuptial agreements.
Prenups can cover a variety of financial situations, such as verifying what assets each person brings into the marriage to detailing what will happen to future inherited assets. Including the wealth that you plan to pass on to your child in a prenuptial agreement can give you peace of mind that the assets you leave to your child will stay with your child.
DISCUSS A POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENT
To use a prenuptial agreement, you have to put it in place prior to the I do’s. If you’ve passed this point, it is possible to have your child and his or her spouse sign a postnuptial agreement. These are similar to prenups except that postnups are put in place after marriage. As such, they can lead to a tricky family conversation — but it may be worth it to make sure the plans for your assets are carried out.
If you’re looking into any of these options, it’s important to work with a qualified attorney to ensure the agreements are worded properly based on your wishes.