Leaving everything to your children at 18 vs. a trustee

Estate & Tax Attorney, Stefanie Lipson, shares advice on the different factors to consider when deciding to leave your assets to your children at 18 or a trustee to manage those assets
Leaving Everything To Your Kids At 18 vs. A Trustee - Estate Planning
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Leaving everything to your children at 18 vs. a trustee

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So whether you're going to have an estate plan that consists of a will or of a living trust, you want to make sure that the assets pass according to your wishes. When you have minor children or children of any age to be quite honest, it's not just making sure that your son gets your husband's watch or your daughter gets your mother's wedding ring, it's also making sure that the assets that go to your children are going to be administered properly for their benefit, used for appropriate purposes, and managed by somebody who you are comfortable with. In general the default under most State laws is that when a child becomes an adult, which is at the age of 18, that child receives any property that was left to them. So if you have a will or trust that says, I leave everything to my children, at age 18 they'll have full access to that money and can do with it what they want. If you've set up an estate plan in advance that provides for the assets to be administered, for example, in trust, by a trustee for your children, you have the ability to specify what are the appropriate purposes for what that money can be used for. For example, education, purchasing a house and you can specify who is to manage those assets for your child, perhaps it's the trustee himself or herself at a specific age. But it could also be somebody other than the child until down the road or a particular milestone that the child reaches.

Estate & Tax Attorney, Stefanie Lipson, shares advice on the different factors to consider when deciding to leave your assets to your children at 18 or a trustee to manage those assets

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Expert Bio

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Stefanie Lipson

Estate & Tax Attorney

Stefanie J. Lipson is an attorney in the Family Wealth Planning Group of Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman, & Machtinger, LLP.  Stefanie’s practice focuses on comprehensive estate planning for high net worth individuals, family business succession planning, probate and trust administration and the law of tax exempt organizations.  Stefanie counsels her clients with a holistic approach to wealth transfer solutions, structuring plans to meet a family’s individual needs while addressing the complex estate, gift and income tax implications of wealth transfer.  In addition, consistent with Stefanie’s belief that the most effective estate planning begins early, Stefanie has developed an estate planning program designed specifically to meet the planning needs of young families as they encounter common life events. 

Stefanie’s unique approach and application of Trust and Estate law has been well acknowledged by the legal community.  She served as a panelist at the 2010 Southern California Tax and Estate Planning Forum in a discussion involving multijurisdictional issues in estate planning and has authored publications for The Los Angeles Daily Journal and The Recorder.  Stefanie has been listed in Southern California Rising Stars each year since 2009.

Stefanie received her Bachelor of Arts in 2003 from University of California Los Angeles, graduating magna cum laude with the distinction of departmental honors and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  Stefanie received her J.D. from the University of Southern California Law Center in 2006.  Following her graduation from USC, Stefanie clerked for the Honorable Fred Keiser, Jr. in the New Jersey Superior Court, Family Law Division.  During her time with the court, Stefanie also served as a court appointed mediator for small claims civil matters. 

In furtherance of her estate planning work, Stefanie is currently pursuing a Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.) from New York University School of Law.  Stefanie’s studies at NYU focus on estate, gift and income tax matters relating to wealth succession planning and family business ownership.

Stefanie lives in Los Angeles, with her husband Marc and their new son Noah, whom she regards as her greatest achievement.

Guardianship, Wills and Trusts
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