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Protecting Minor Children in a Texas Estate Plan

Posted on in Estate Planning and Probate

Texas estate planning attorneyFor parents who still have minor children to worry about, protecting them is probably your number one estate planning goal. Many parents would want their entire estate to benefit their children should the child be left without a suitable living parent. Leaving estate property to a minor in Texas can be slightly more complicated than leaving it to an adult. Minors cannot take possession and control of their inheritance until they reach legal adulthood. A responsible adult must step in and manage the inheritance for the children’s benefit until then. Often, multiple estate planning tools are needed to adequately protect children’s interests and well-being. 

What Happens if I Leave Property to Children in a Will? 

The probate court will need to appoint a guardian of the estate to manage any assets left to the children. There is no guarantee that the guardian you want will be the one appointed. This matter is left to the probate court, which will do what it thinks is in your children’s best interest. The guardian would be a fiduciary, meaning that he is responsible for managing the estate property strictly in the children’s best interest. 

However, courts closely supervise guardianships for minors. Every expenditure of estate funds must be accounted for. The entire process can be both complicated and expensive. Fortunately, there are ways around this. 

How Does a Minor’s Trust Work?

Revocable living trusts are generally the preferred tool for leaving money and other property or assets to children. You can appoint a trustee of your choosing to manage your children’s property. The trust is funded with your property during your lifetime, meaning that you will place assets in the trust as soon as you create it. However, it is revocable, so you remain free to remove or manage any property you have placed in the trust. 

Minor’s trusts also allow the estate to bypass probate and the need for a guardianship. You will control how, when, and why distributions should be made, as well as at what age or upon what even your children should take possession of any remaining property, if you so choose. 

Why Would I Still Need a Will?

In a will, you can name the person you would want to raise the children in your absence. The court does not have to follow your appointment, but it generally will so long as living with the person you named would be in the children’s best interests. Trusts can only be used for managing property, not for naming a contingency legal guardian. 

Call a San Antonio Estate Planning Attorney

Geoff Mayfield, Attorney at Law is experienced at building complete estate plans aimed at protecting minor children. Our Bexar estate planning attorneys will discuss all of your options with you when it comes to making sure that your children are safeguarded. Call us at 210-535-0870 for a free consultation. 



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