It’s natural for parents to want to protect their children, even their adult children. While many parents love their children’s spouses, when they are estate planning their #1 priority is protecting their children, and not necessarily their child’s spouse.
Parents who have worked hard to earn a home, some treasured items and savings, and want to pass that legacy to their children after their death and to keep that legacy in the family for their grandchildren. While often money that is inherited during a marriage is considered marital property, with proper estate planning you can ensure that your legacy is left to your children and their children, and not to their spouse due to a potential future divorce or death.
1. Inheritance Through A Trust
If you leave money to your children through an irrevocable trust, technically the trust owns the money – not the beneficiary. An irrevocable trust can protect your assets and require the trust executor to follow your exact wishes for the distribution of your assets, even if your child dies or becomes divorced.
2. Gift Your Child While You Are Still Living
Recent changes in the tax code make it easier to gift money to your heirs before you die. In 2020 the annual exclusion is $15,000 – which means you can gift anyone up to $15,000 per year without triggering gift taxes. That number could rise in the future as inflation impacts the value of the U.S. dollar.
3. Generation-Skipping Transfer Trust or GST
A GST skips a generation, and assets are passed down to the grantor’s grandchildren, not the grantor’s children. A Generation-Skipping Trust avoids having your estate taxed twice — when your children inherit, and when your grandchildren later inherit your assets. GST allows you to give your grandchildren or great-grandchildren up to $11.40 million — the same as the estate tax exemption — in a generation-skipping trust and only the estate tax applies, or $22.80 million if you’re married.
Ideally, your child can sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to negotiate that their future inheritance is separate from marital property. If you want to secure your adult child’s inheritance after you are gone, it can be stressful for your child to say that their future inheritance as not a part of marital property and will not be shared with their present or future spouse.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine the best options to protect your family and secure their futures after you are gone, and ensure that their inheritance is not considered marital property.
An estate planning attorney who has experience with protecting generational wealth can advise you on the best options to protect your children’s inheritance and your legacy. To talk to an estate planning attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-687-9100. The Estate and Probate Legal Group serves Cook, Dupage, Kane, Lake, and Will counties.