Though courts can fix accidental designations of minors as recipients of inherited property, the solutions involve added complications (e.g., appointing a guardian or delaying property distribution), and there are number of steps testators can take to avoid such messes altogether.  For example:

  1. Include in the will that the executor can distribute the property left to minor to a custodian instead.
  2. Give the executor the ability to use the funds left to the minor for the benefit of the minor.
  3. Create a contingent trust that is effective only if a minor is left property.
  4. Don’t name current minors as beneficiaries for any accounts.
  5. Remember to name a successor owner and contingent successor owner, if allowed, for all college savings accounts.
  6. Create inter vivos trusts with minors as the beneficiaries.

See Gerry W. Beyer, “Six Ways to Avoid Accidental Inheritance by Minors,” Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Aug. 15, 2014) citing Sandra W. Reed, “Estate Planning and Minors,” Your GlennroseTX (Aug. 7, 2014).

Posted by Morgan Yuan, Esq., Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal.