MoneyDo: Estate Planning: Control Beyond The Grave


In a year where so much feels out of control, it is important to not only think about your financial situation and personal estate plan, but also to think about the legacy you may leave to your heirs. 

This week’s MoneyDo is to review your estate planning legacy and determine if your beneficiaries need more support and guidance from you.  If they do, you may want to update the estate plan to have more control over your assets and legacy after you pass away.

Many estate plans provide for an outright distribution of assets to heirs.  Doing so, gives the beneficiaries full control over their inheritance to use, spend or save as they see fit.  Alternatively, limits can be placed on an inheritance. This is generally done by using trusts for the various beneficiaries where the terms and condition upon which they can use the money or outlined.  Doing so is often referred to as “Dead Hand Control” as you are continuing to control your wealth from beyond the grave!

While that may sound less than ideal or more controlling that you want it to be, there are some situations where you should strongly consider using trusts with terms and conditions rather than leaving money directly to a beneficiary.  If you plan to leave money to any of the following people, you should consider creating trusts for their benefit:

  • Young or Minor Beneficiaries
  • Special Needs Beneficiaries that are receiving governmental benefits (outright distributions may disqualify them from those benefits)
  • Beneficiaries with addiction issues
  • Beneficiaries that are not good with managing money or have significant creditors and
  • Beneficiaries that may get divorced in the future

Whatever you ultimately decide, it is critical to work with an estate planning attorney to ensure you understand the impact of your estate plan, the terms and conditions that will carry out your estate planning goals, and how to properly educate your beneficiaries about your legacy.