Setting Up an Equitable Trust for Kids and Grandkids

Question:

I am working on updating a trust to include my three adult children and my adult grandchildren. However, my son and his wife do not have any children.

I’m struggling with including the grandchildren in my trust without upsetting the childless couple. Any suggestions?

Response:

I appreciate your sensitivity to your son and his wife. I encourage you to consult with an attorney or other professional that writes wills and trusts.

You might find this episode of Grand Monday Nights with Russ Crosson helpful: Sticky/Money/Legacy Situations – Questions Grandparents Want to Ask.

My comments will be limited to how to handle this decision in a way that is likely to be fair to everyone. First, I encourage you to discuss your concerns with your son and his wife. They may tell you that they respect your right to include whomever you want in your trust and find that this is more of an issue for you than for them.

Having worked with many families coping with the emotional issues related to wills and trusts, I have also known many to decide on a percentage to allocate for children vs. grandchildren. For example, 70% is divided between children and 30% is divided between grandchildren, or a specific amount goes to each child and a specific amount goes to each grandchild.

Obviously, I cannot advise you about what to do, but you might consider what I said and then talk with an attorney about these and other options that might be available to you.

Most importantly, I think it is important for you to take some time to hear from your son and his wife so you understand their perspective when making your final decision.

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