How to Set Up a Trust Fund for a Child – Steps & Tips

Setting up a trust fund takes enormous consideration and responsibility, but it is an extra-effort step in financial security that will ensure your child or children has what they need when they need it. Trust-fund kids are often the brunt of jokes about financial wealth, but trust funds are not necessarily for the wealthiest of the wealthy. Families from modest backgrounds can learn how to set up a trust fund for a child without a net worth in the millions. The steps and tips below will help you get started.

the words trust fund written with a thick dark blue font and color on a white background

1: Decide Where to Begin

The beginning of learning how to set up a trust fund for a child starts with choosing where you want to start. You will first need to determine how much and what kind of property goes into the trust. You can start with anything. Trust funds do not need to have tens of thousands to open. They also do not have to contain large pieces of property.

2: Select a Custodian and Trustee

While you are learning how to set up a trust fund for a child, you must select a custodian and trustee. The trustee can be you, but for the most benefits, you should choose someone who is not you. This will create an ideal trust that is irrevocable. A custodian manages the trust disbursements in the way you outline it.

a pile of 100 plenty of dollar bills close-up

3: Decide What Financial Institution to Use

When you are learning how to set up a trust fund for a child, you will need to make big decisions about the kind of financial institution you will start the trust with. This requires attention to detail and market research. Comparing the benefits of each financial institution is necessary before making a decision. Once you have opened the trust, it is difficult to switch to another bank and should be avoided.

4: Decide on the Terms

The next step of learning how to set up a trust fund for a child is to decide the terms that the trust will be released on. If it is all money, the trustee can release funds at a specific date. The funds can also be tied to specific events that are outlined by you and written into place by an attorney or someone else who has extensive knowledge about financial assets.

Choosing these terms and solidifying a plan is not something that is done quickly. People often plan trust funds for their children before the child is born or in early childhood.

a cute tiny newborn baby sleeping in a basket

5: Consider What Benefit You Want

Money placed into a trust cannot be taxed. Physical assets in a trust cannot be taxed. If you have placed the trust completely in the hands of a trustee who isn’t you, then you will receive maximum benefits, but you will need to pay the trustee in most cases to protect those assets and uphold the specifics of the terms.

6: Have a Contingency Plan

If something happens in the child’s life that bars them from accessing the funds or property at the right time, then have a contingency plan so that those funds can be appropriated elsewhere or for a different purpose.

If your terms say that twenty-thousand dollars should be released upon marriage, but your child decides not to marry, then there should be alternatives for that money. Your child should not necessarily know the specific terms that are outlined in the trust to avoid them trying to circumvent the terms surrounding the trust.

7: Ensure Protection

With appropriate legal guidance, a trust can be protected from the child’s spouse or creditors. Gifts of money or property do not have the same protections. This is one of the primary reasons to get a trust in the first place, and you should make all of the effort possible for learning how to set up a trust fund for a child that affords them protection from losing property or money to someone with bad intentions.

8: Obtain the Proper Documents No

Trust documents are safest and strongest when an attorney writes them while guided by your intentions. However, you can save money by writing your own documents using a trust-document kit that teaches you how to set up a trust fund for a child. You can take your written documents to an attorney for review and modifications.

the words college fund written on a transparent jar full of dollar bills

9: Fund the Trust Wisely

You can funnel money into a trust using long-term investments, and this is generally the soundest way to create an ample trust that continues to grow through your child’s life. Do not make all contributions to the fund long-term investments. In the event of an emergency, there should be funds available for your child’s care. This isn’t possible with long-term investments that need to reach maturity.

10: Leave Out Personal Items

Do not make a trust fund more complicated and unnecessarily bulky by adding personal items like cars, homes or other types of property. While a trust fund can contain these items, it requires more documentation about managing that property over the life of the trust.

cute yellow baby slippers placed on the ground outdoors

11: Do It Yourself When You Can

If you have knowledgeable friends or family you can hire cheaply, use their skills and services to learn how to set up a trust fund for a child. When you can use a more affordable option for managing a trust, do so. If you cannot do it well with the help of people you know, stick to the experts.

Bottom Line

A trust fund can be set up at any point in your child’s life, but starting one early is going to serve your family better and give it time to develop. Trust funds can help you financially as well, but they should not be created for the sole purpose of evading taxes.

In order to be the most trustworthy and reliable, a trust fund should be irrevocable and completely for your child regardless of whether you change your mind.

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