What Happens if a Minor is a Beneficiary?
November 16th, 2022 by Bunch & Brock
You’ve likely heard of the importance of having an estate plan, but why is it particularly necessary when a minor is involved?
Simply put, minors are not allowed to directly receive their inheritances. Therefore, having a last will that provides details for the creation of a trust for a minor beneficiary is critical to help ensure the minor successfully gets their inheritance.
When you’re ready to create your will and minor trust, rely on the knowledgeable and experienced estate planning lawyers at Bunch & Brock.
What is a Last Will?
A last will, also known as a last will and testament or a will, is a crucial part of a strong estate plan. A will is a legal document that details your wishes in regard to the distribution of your assets and property after your death. Additionally, wills are used to provide other types of information, like who will serve as personal representative over the estate and who will care for minor children, if there are any.
Not only is creating a will important, but so is ensuring that the will is legally valid. To have a valid will under Kentucky law, it must be signed by the testator (the person who created the will) and two witnesses, but it important to have it notarized so the last will is self-proving, meaning the judge does not have to take testimony as to the veracity of the signatures. The witnesses cannot be spouses or beneficiaries.
Kentucky law does allow for handwritten wills, also called holographic wills, as long as they are created entirely in the testator’s handwriting (pen to paper) and signed and dated, assuming that the writing is a clear intention of the person’s last instructions.
When creating a will that does not follow Kentucky law, you run the risk of having the will deemed invalid. If a will is invalid, the courts will not recognize it.
It’s critical for every adult to have a last will, especially parents with minor children or those leaving an inheritance to minors.
Understanding Kentucky Inheritance Laws
Every state’s inheritance laws are different.
When you pass away without a will or estate plan, you die intestate. When a person dies intestate in Kentucky, the probate court is legally allowed to step in and handle distribution to beneficiaries. However, this is not ideal, as it often results in the distribution of assets and property in a manner in which the testator would not have intended.
In Kentucky, most estates go through the probate process. The involvement of the probate process and how long it takes depends on certain details, including whether the decedent had a will and the size of their estate.
According to Kentucky inheritance laws, when the decedent is married and has no will or estate plan, the spouse is entitled to receive half of their real property and personal property. The other half is distributed to children, parents, and siblings. If no children or parents, then the entire estate goes to the decedent’s spouse. If the decedent is survived solely by children and no spouse, the children get the entirety of the estate. Grandchildren are direct heirs only if their parents (decedent’s children) have already passed.
Understanding Kentucky inheritance law can be tricky, but necessary, as it gives you a better understanding of how it could apply to your situation. The estate planning attorneys at Bunch and Brock are happy to discuss laws and legal information with you.
What is a Child Entitled to When a Parent Dies Without a Will?
When considering Kentucky inheritance laws, it’s common to wonder what children receive should a decedent not have a will or any estate plan.
When a decedent dies intestate in Kentucky, children are entitled to intestate shares of the estate. Exactly what a child gets depends on the family dynamic, including whether the decedent is married and how many children they have.
What Happens if a Minor is a Beneficiary?
Minors, because they are not legally adults, are not allowed to handle their own legal or financial affairs, including receiving inheritances. Therefore, if a minor is a beneficiary, their inheritance must be placed in a trust or custodial account. A guardianship or conservatorship can also be created, depending on the circumstances.
Creating a trust for minor children’s inheritances is one of the most common choices.
Establishing a trust involves the trustor’s creating a fiduciary relationship which gives a trustee the right to hold assets or property for the benefit of a beneficiary. There are several different types of trusts, depending on the trustor’s needs and goals.
What is a Trust Account for Minors?
When a trustor is setting up a trust for minor beneficiaries, they can set up a minor’s trust.
The trustee manages the assets and/or property for the minor until the minor turns a certain age. The trustor has control over the details of the trust, so, for example, if they wish for the minor to have access to the assets in the trust at 25, 30 or 35 instead of 18, or after college, they could set it up in such a manner.
Having a minor’s trust establishes financial security for the minor and helps ensure the minor receives their inheritance based on the terms of the trustor.
Last Wills and Trust Accounts for Minors
So, what is the correlation between last wills and trust accounts for minors?
A trust account can be set up through a last will. In your will, you can provide details for the trust, like what assets and property to include and at what age the minor can have full access to them.
While wills and trusts are two different pieces of an estate plan, they can work together to make sure the decedent’s goals go exactly as planned.
Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney
The legal team at Bunch & Brock has over 35 years of experience helping clients with their estate planning needs. We understand the importance of having a strong estate plan and the significance of one that is personalized to your needs. Therefore, we take our time getting to know every client in order to create the highest quality estate plan.
Contact us today at (859) 254-5522 to schedule a consultation with one of our estate planning attorneys.