If you have minor children, you have some more decisions to make. These decisions may be more difficult as they are very important. You need to choose a guardian and a trustee. This can be the same person, and usually is, but it does not have to be. The guardian is the person who will have physical and legal custody of your children. You should carefully choose this person, and you should discuss it with them before writing them into your will.
You should try to choose one person as guardian, not a couple. The sad fact is that 50% of marriages end in divorce and you do not want your children to be the subject of someone’s custody battle. Most people choose a family member. If so, name the actual blood relative and leave the spouse or significant other out. If this ruffles any feathers, feel free to blame your attorney. We won’t mind.
Much of the same advice applies to the trustee, who is the person that controls your money for the benefit of your children. You will likely give your trustee absolute power to distribute your money to your children, so choose this person wisely as well. Most people make the guardian and trustee the same person. It is hard to be a guardian if you have no money to pay for things, or if you have to ask the trustee for money every time you need it for the children.
Last, you will need to choose an age at which your children will own the property for themselves.The trust will end at that age, and they get your assets to own in their own name. The most popular ages are 18, 21 & 25. It is hard to predict how mature your 18 year old will be if that is a long way off. Most people want their children to use their money for college, and not to blow it on a Ferrari, or a trip around the world. But at some age, they will get the legal right to own your money and do with it whatever they want.
You should also consider choosing alternate trustees and guardians, in case they are unable to serve. We use the phrase “unable or unwilling to serve” when choosing alternates. But what you are really worried about is your guardian or trustee dying before you do. Life is unpredictable. We recommend choosing alternates.