When you marry someone, they stand to inherit a significant portion of your assets under Ohio law if you die during the marriage. Your last will likely talks about splitting the assets between your spouse and your children, and you may also use your will to name a guardian for your kids in the event that something happens to you. While that may be sufficient for married couples, needs change when you divorce.
Divorced parents have less reason to worry about naming a guardian because if they die, chances are good that their ex will simply assume sole custody of the children. That can feel reassuring to some people because they don’t have to worry about who will care for their kids.
For others, it may raise serious concerns about what will happen to their estate and the assets they want to leave for their children. After all, if you leave everything to your children when you die, that could mean that your ex has control of your assets if your children are still minors when you die.
If you just leave everything to your kids, you have no control
A simple last will is all that you really need to allocate assets to others in the event that you die. However, a will may not adequately protect you if you have a complex family situation, such as being the parent to minor children after divorcing the other parent.
When minors inherit large amounts of money, their custodial parent is the one who generally assumes control of those assets until they reach the age of majority. In other words, your ex will be the one who will have control over your assets if you die before your kids turn 18.
That could mean that by the time your children reach adulthood, there really isn’t much left for them to use, as your ex may spend all of it while they are minors. If you try to just use a last will, you won’t have any control over what happens to your assets after your death. A trust, on the other hand, can give you control over certain issues, including how much someone can use from the trust and what the funds can be spent on.
A trust will protect your legacy for your kids when they reach adulthood
Creating a trust gives you many options regarding the funds you want to leave behind for your children. Some parents may want to allocate a monthly amount that the other parents can use for the maintenance of the children. Others will prefer to leave all of the funds in the trust until their children are either 18 or reach other important life milestones, such as finishing high school or college.
Your family is unique, and the estate plan and trust that you create should be unique and suited to your personal concerns as well.