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How can my heirs benefit from a spendthrift trust?

Imagine you want to leave $200,000 to your only surviving relative. The problem is, this individual is only 18 years of age, and has not exhibited an ounce of financial responsibility in his entire short life. You may definitely be concerned about leaving such a large amount of cash to your heir. Not only is there the chance that your beneficiary will quickly spend the money irresponsibly, but -- if your relative has a substance abuse issue -- the money could be extremely dangerous to his health.

It's situations like these that could benefit from a spendthrift trust. A "spendthrift" is an old word used to describe someone who wastes his or her money without a care toward the future.

A spendthrift trust, like any other trust, is a legal tool that allows you to surrender assets to the ownership of the trust, while providing detailed instructions about how those assets will be doled out to your chosen beneficiary after you're gone.

In the case of a financially irresponsible relative, you could put the money on ice -- and have a fund manager invest it -- until your relative has reached the age of 30. Alternatively, you could have the money paid out to your relative in small sums over the course of decades until a certain age when you feel that your heir will be mature enough to manage the balance.

If you want to create a spendthrift trust for the benefit of your family, discuss your situation with an experienced estate planning attorney. Your attorney can tailor a spendthrift trust with the exact terms and conditions you and your family require.

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