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Estate planning changes when children become adults

District of Columbia residents who have minor children require an estate plan that includes the appointment of a guardian and most likely a way for their assets to benefit those children while they are still young. However, once a child becomes an adult, such a plan no longer applies. This means that further estate planning needs to be done to account for that fact.

Now that the children are adults, the focus of estate planning can take a new direction. Children may get married and have children of their own, which creates the need for a different mindset when creating an estate plan. Issues such as limiting -- or eliminating -- estate taxes and protecting a child's inheritance from creditors, potential ex-spouses and other pitfalls -- such as probate -- become a priority.

One way to do this is by using trusts. Putting an individual's assets into a trust can avoid them going through probate upon death. Further, the provisions of a trust can dictate how and when a beneficiary will receive distributions. This gives a parent peace of mind that his or her assets will provide for the children for years to come. This is especially helpful when a child is not adept at money matters and may squander his or her inheritance too quickly.

There is a significant difference in providing for minor children versus adult children after death. District of Columbia residents need to consider this when they no longer have minor children. Estate planning is often an ongoing process that can change as children age, grandchildren are born or any other major life event occurs. The sooner a new plan is drawn up after such an event, the better the chances that children will have fewer legal complications once their parents pass away.

Source: dailyfinance.com, "When Our Son Left the Nest, We Knew We Needed a New Will", Drew Trachtenberg, Nov. 5, 2014

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