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How to Set Up a Trust Fund for a Child

How to Set Up a Trust Fund for a Child
November 6, 2023

Trusts are legal entities that contain property or assets on behalf of someone else. They are also very useful legal structures that help families avoid taxation on their assets and ensure they are passed down to beneficiaries when they reach a certain age.  

There are also different types of trust that you can set up for asset protection and inheritance purposes.

Probably one of the most important reasons to create a trust for your child is to avoid probate when they need to access assets after your passing. Trusts also allow kids to avoid mismanagement of funds thanks to the trustees tasked with ensuring the trust remains viable until the child needs it. 

A skilled estate planning attorney can help you to develop a plan for the trust and its management. So, how do you set up a trust for a child in Florida?

How to Create a Trust for a Child in Florida Step by Step

It might be a daunting prospect to create a trust fund for your children, but the hardest thing for most parents is that they don't know where to start or what the steps in the process are. 

To help you get started, here's how to create a trust for a child in Florida:

Step 1: Purpose and Goals of Your Trust

Why are you planning to set up a trust? The trust's purpose is a crucial consideration because it shapes everything that comes after it. Its primary goal is to provide a structured mechanism for managing assets and ensuring they are used exclusively for the child's benefit, whether for education, healthcare, or overall financial security. It shields assets from potential threats, minimizes tax liabilities, and facilitates seamless wealth transfer. A trust also often allows your children to avoid a costly and time-consuming probate process.

Additionally, it allows for tailored provisions to meet your child's needs. Depending on which of these benefits you prioritize, the choice of the type of trust should reflect that. Which leads us to the next step.

Step 2: Choose the Trust Type

Selecting the right type of trust is a pivotal decision when establishing a trust fund for a child. There are several options for trust types in Florida. 

Each type comes with distinct features and legal implications. Understanding these options is crucial in tailoring your trust to suit your child's needs.

  • Revocable Living Trust: A revocable trust allows the grantor to maintain control and ownership of assets while specifying how they should be managed and distributed upon their passing. It's flexible, enabling modifications or revocation as circumstances change. However, it may not offer the same level of asset protection as an irrevocable trust.
  • Irrevocable Trust: Irrevocable trusts transfer assets from the grantor's ownership, providing greater protection against creditors and legal claims. An irrevocable trust cannot be modified. While the grantor relinquishes control, this type is often favored for long-term asset preservation and estate tax reduction.
  • Special Needs Trust: If your child has special needs, a special needs trust is essential. It allows you to provide for their well-being without jeopardizing government assistance. This trust is tailored to address the unique financial requirements of individuals with disabilities.

The type of trust you choose will determine how your assets are managed and will depend on the child's circumstances. Depending on your goals for your child's financial future, you will choose a particular trust in line with those needs.

Step 3: Choosing Trustees for your Fund

Trustees are responsible individuals who will manage the trust until your child is old enough to claim it. When selecting a trustee, it's essential to choose someone reliable, ethical, and capable of making sound financial decisions. Look for individuals with financial expertise or consider professional trustees. 

It's also vital to ensure the trustee aligns with your values and your child's best interests. Open communication and trust between the grantor and trustee are key for successful trust administration. You might already have some people in mind to be your child's trustees. If so, talk it over with them and with your estate planning attorney. 

Step 4: Drafting the Agreement

The trust agreement is a legal document outlining the terms, conditions, and provisions. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, the agreement specifies how trust assets will be managed, distributed, and used for the child's benefit. 

It includes details about the trustee's powers and responsibilities, the grantor's intentions, and any specific conditions for asset distribution. A well-crafted agreement ensures the trust operates per the grantor's wishes and the child's best interests. 

Step 5: Fund the Trust

Funding a trust requires you to transfer assets to the trust. This doesn't have to be done all at once but can be set up to take place over time. It's crucial to transfer assets accurately, such as cash, real estate, or investments, and update the relevant ownership documentation. 

Proper funding ensures the trust has the resources necessary to fulfill its intended purpose, whether it's education, healthcare, or overall financial security, and safeguards the beneficiary's future. 

Step 6: Address Tax Considerations

What are the legal implications of your fund? Consult with a tax professional to optimize the trust's tax efficiency, minimize potential tax liabilities, and ensure compliance with state and federal tax laws. This step can lead to substantial savings and enhance the long-term financial benefit for the child. 

Proper tax planning is essential for effectively managing and preserving trust assets. Once you've done the work necessary to address the tax considerations, you can move to maintaining and reviewing the trust.

Step 7: Maintain and Review the Trust

Reviewing your trust over time is often a good idea. Regularly reviewing the trust's provisions ensures they align with changing circumstances and the beneficiary's evolving needs. 

Open lines of communication with the trustee are vital for monitoring the trust's progress and making necessary adjustments. This step ensures that the trust continues to fulfill its intended purpose and provides the child with the best possible financial support over time.

Choose Someone to Help You Set Up Your Child's Trust

The trust documents you sign, including the estate plan and the agreement, should be reviewed by a professional to ensure they conform to Florida's laws.

Elder Needs Law offers Florida estate planning, probate, and Medicaid planning. With years of experience under our belt, we're the perfect choice to help you set up your trust for children. Contact us today if you want to create a trust fund and secure the future of your children and grandchildren.

Jason Neufeld is the Founder and Managing Partner of Elder Needs Law, a Florida estate planning and elder law firm he created in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including Medicaid planning, estate planning, elder law, probate, Medicare, and life insurance.

Jason received his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami — School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Broward County Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named a Rising Star and Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers and among the Florida Legal Elite by Florida Trend in 2024.

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