Guardian and Estate

Guardian and Estate

My 9-year 0ld Grandsons' father has passed. If his mother (my daughter in law) passes....who becomes legal guardian of my Grandson and monitor of her estate. Her parents are not able to. As for the future of my grandson...what's preferred, A living trust or a Will.


Your daughter, as soon as she's emotinally able to deal with these issues, should have an estate planning specialist (not a general attorney) prepare a will for her. The will she name a guardian and several successors. If you are to be named than you could be the guardian, but you have to be sure you are really able to handle the challenge. The will for your daughter should also set up a trust for her son, your grandson. I recommend co-trustees so there are checks and balances. Perhaps the guardian and a bank. A bank (or trust company) assures independence, professionalism, etc.

As for a living trust versus a will, the trust (if done right and many are not) will add to the cost. Is that really a necessary expense now? I suspect that saving the extra $500-$2,000 an attorney will charge for the living trust in addition to the will in a 529 college savings plan for your grandson might be wiser now, but I really don't have the details to know. The living trust is a great tool to manage assets, and can sometimes be useful for avoiding probate (see the many other questions on this web site). But as for setting up a trust for your grandson the will or trust would have the same trust in it. It sounds like your daughter has you to rely on, can discuss the planning ideas above (co-trustees and successor guardians) with an attorney, and unless there are health or other extenuating circumstances should forgo the trust for now. But, she can discuss this with an estate planner.

Your daughter should also meet with a financial planner and insurance consultant to be sure she has the protections in place for her son.

If you and your daughter plan together, it will better protect your grandson. For example, what's in your will? If you don't have a spouse living perhaps a pot trust for your daughter and grandson would be useful. If you do have a spouse, perhaps a pot trust for all.

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