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My Son Cannot Handle Money. My Other Son Has a Bad Marriage. Should I Make a Trust?

Q: My son cannot manage money. My concern is that if he gets an inheritance outright, he will spend all of it and have no money left for retirement. I want him to have an income for life, and perhaps start getting distributions once he gets older and more mature. My other son has a bad marriage. I want to keep money in the family and away from divorce. How can I use a will or a trust to accomplish those goals?

A: A will only allows you to disburse your money at death. It does not allow you to hold money in reserve. In a will, you can only designate an executor – a person who distributes your money after your death to creditors and heirs. You cannot designate a trustee – a person who manages your money and disburses the money as per your instructions.

A trust allows you to appoint a person who will manage your money after your death, according to your instructions. In a trust, you can provide instructions to your trustee how long to hold the money, whom to give it to, when, under what conditions and in which circumstances. This gives you several benefits over a will. If your heirs don’t get the money outright but in a trust, they cannot spend it all right away and their money will be protected from the beneficiaries themselves, creditors, spouses, fraudsters and government tax liabilities.

If you want to discuss making a trust, contact New York trust lawyer Albert Goodwin. I can be reached at (212) 233-1233 and by email.