You Need This Advice If You’re Leaving Money to a Minor

Nobody gets out of this life alive. It’s an old quote turned into song lyrics that basically sums up the unavoidable. All things considered, it’s most likely something you already know. In fact, you may have already drawn up an estate plan in anticipation of the inevitable. That said, you need to take particular precautions when it comes to leaving money to a minor. Not sure why? Read on.

Here’s a situation that may ring true to your life. You and your spouse are happily married when you meet with an estate attorney. You both figure that if something happens, the other parent will take over with child-rearing. It, therefore, makes perfect sense that any assets left for the minor beneficiary will be managed by the surviving mother or father.

But, does it really? Your marriage might be glorious at the time you draw up your will. However, what happens if things take an ugly turn?  What if your spouse turns to substance abuse or has a gambling problem? Should he or she be blanketly entrusted with funds earmarked for your child beneficiary?

It’s a question that you and an experienced estate lawyer will need to take into consideration. Truth be told, there may be a time that you’ll want to update your will to reflect your feelings. The recent death of the famed Anthony Bourdain may well provide you with the impetus for making some changes.

Anthony Bourdain: Left Money to Minor Daughter

No doubt you joined the billions of people flabbergasted at the announcement that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. His public presence brought joy to multitudes of people. Regardless of how he left this earth, Bourdain’s death was untimely.

Meanwhile, the news offers some insight into the famed chef’s estate plan.  Some were surprised at the size of Bourdain’s estate, as they expected it to be much more significant. According to sources, Bourdain executed his will in 2016. In fact, it was written just before he split with his wife Ottavia Busia.

Although the couple was separated, they were not divorced at the time of Bourdain’s passing. The bulk of his estate was left to the couple’s daughter, Ariane Busia-Bourdain. At just 11 years old, she is clearly not able to handle her inheritance at this age.

Although the will had not been updated since the chef had separated from his wife, he did create a separate trust for his daughter outside of his will. By doing this, there is no need for a guardian. Therefore, Bourdain had protected his daughter’s finances.

So, what happens now? Since no one was named as a trustee for the funds, the court will appoint a guardian for Ariane. More than likely, it will be her mother.

Was that Bourdain’s intention? It could have been – but there’s no way of telling. Before his death, Bourdain shared that the couple “get along really, really well and it’s not a big lifestyle change happening here.”

Obviously, each situation is different. What if Bourdain wanted someone other than his estranged wife to manage their daughter’s inheritance? Is that possible?

The short answer is in the affirmative. All it takes is naming a trustee to oversee the funds. And, there’s still nothing stopping the testator from selecting a surviving parent.

Naming a Trustee for a Minor Beneficiary

What’s the problem with just letting the court appoint a guardian? For one, if you have concerns that the surviving parent will squander the minor’s money, you’ll want to consider naming a trustee.

Meanwhile, there are other reasons that naming a trustee may be more suitable than leaving it up to the court to appoint a guardian for a minor child. For one, the Pennsylvania Orphans’ Court Rules call for a strict accounting of all receipts, disbursements, and distributions. This could prove to be unduly cumbersome.

A testamentary guardianship allows parents to specifically name someone as the manager of the minor child’s inheritance. The person executing the will name a suitable party. Often, there will be language in the legal documents stating that the proceeds are to be used for the minor’s “health, education, maintenance, and support.”

The court does not become involved in trustee accounts set up for minors. Notwithstanding, receipts should still be saved. The Trustee is also responsible for ensuring taxes are filed as required by law.

Contact Us

Are you planning to leave money to a minor beneficiary? Even if you have an existing estate plan, you may need to update it. Contact Fellerman & Ciarimboli to schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns.

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With more than 40 years of combined experience, the personal injury attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli strive to provide the best service to clients in Philadelphia, Northeast Pennsylvania, and throughout the Keystone State.

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