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  • Writer's pictureShannon Marino

Protect Your Children’s Inheritance With A Lifetime Asset Protection Trust

As a parent, you’re likely hoping to leave your children an inheritance. In fact, doing so may be one of the primary factors motivating your life’s work. However, without taking the proper precautions, the wealth you pass on is at serious risk of being accidentally lost or squandered due to common life events, such as divorce, serious debt, devastating illness, and unfortunate accidents.

In some cases, a sudden inheritance windfall can even wind up doing your kids more harm than good.

Creating a will or a revocable living trust offers some protection for your kid’s inheritance, but in most cases, you’ll be guided to distribute assets through your will or trust to your children at specific ages and stages, such as one third at age 25, half the balance at 30, and the rest at age 35.

If you’ve created an estate plan, check to see if this is how your will or trust leaves assets to your children. If so, you may not have been told about another option that can give your children access, control, and airtight asset protection for whatever assets they inherit from you.

As your Personal Family Lawyer firm®, in our planning process, we always offer parents the option of creating a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust for their children’s inheritance. These unique trusts safeguard your kids’ inheritance from being lost to common life events, such as divorce, serious illness, lawsuits, or even bankruptcy.

But that’s not all they do.

Indeed, the best part of these trusts is that they offer your kids the best of both worlds: 1) airtight asset protection and 2) the ability to use and control their inheritance. You can even provide your heirs with a unique educational opportunity in which they gain valuable experience managing and growing their inheritance.

Not Only For The Super Rich

Contrary to what you might think, Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts are not just for those with massive wealth. In fact, these trusts are even more useful if you’re leaving a relatively modest inheritance because they can be used to educate your children about how to grow your family wealth, instead of quickly blowing through it.

Without guidance, most people blow through their inheritance very quickly. In fact, one study found that, on average, an inheritance is totally gone in about five years due to debt and poor investment. Another study found that one-third of people who receive an inheritance actually had a negative savings within just two years. Not to mention, the smaller the inheritance, the more at risk it is of getting wiped out by a single unfortunate event like a medical emergency, lawsuit, or serious accident.

To demonstrate how Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts provide protection to families leaving behind a modest inheritance, here we’ll describe a true story involving a tragic accident. While the following events are entirely true, the individual’s name has been changed for privacy protection.

The Flooded Penthouse

Eric was staying at an Airbnb apartment in New York City. The apartment was the penthouse of the building, and Eric decided to run himself a bath. While the bath was running, another friend called and invited Eric to go out with him. Distracted by the new and unexpected invite, Eric quickly dressed and left the apartment in a hurry.

At about 2 a.m., Eric came back to the apartment and discovered he made a huge mistake and left the bath running when he left the apartment. The resulting flood caused more than $400,000 in damage to the apartment and the one below it.

While there was insurance to cover the damage, the insurance company sued Eric for what’s known as “subrogation,” meaning the company sought to collect the $400,000 they paid out to repair the damage Eric caused to the property.

Because the flood was due to his negligence in leaving the bath running—a simple, but costly mistake—Eric was responsible for the damage. Now here’s where the inheritance piece comes into play and why it’s so important to leave whatever you’re passing on to your heirs in a protected trust. If Eric had received an inheritance outright in his own name, he would have lost $400,000 of it to this unfortunate mishap.

However, if Eric had received his inheritance in a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust, instead of an outright distribution, his money would be completely protected from such a lawsuit—and just about any other threat imaginable.