Sadly, divorce is all too common in our society. This process can be so painful and often results in the former couple having negative and angry feelings towards their exes. Once all property is split, new homes are established and parenting plans are implemented, often these men and women are too exhausted to think about any other legal necessities.
Any divorced individual needs to revisit their Wills, Powers of Attorney and Trusts to ensure that new designates are chosen. But, those who need to take special care with their estate planning are divorced parents of minor/young children.
I find that a client who is divorced with a young child(ren) assume that if they were to pass that the “ex” automatically has full control over everything, including the child’s inheritance. If the divorce was particularly bad, the individual may expect that the “ex” will not use the child’s inheritance for the child but for themselves. There are more protections in place to guard against this then client’s think, but that danger is certainly there.
It is true that if no planning takes place, the child’s other natural parent would be in control of any inheritance, albeit overseen by the Probate Court’s watchful eye. However, it does not have to be this way. By establishing a Trust, the parent can divert all monies to this Trust and designate a Trustee – maybe a parent, sibling, or trusted friend – to manage the trust and spend the funds for the child’s needs. If this is done properly, the natural father or mother would have no access to the child’s funds.
With this type of planning, divorced parents can rest easier knowing that the child’s inheritance is protected.