If you ask most parents of minor children who they want to care for their child(ren) in the event of an early death most will be ready with an answer. They may even have made it known through a last will and testament as to who will be the child's nominated guardian of the person. But, if you ask the parent how their child will be cared for financially, a lot of questions are raised. This is because, as with most legal questions, the general public does quite understand the logistics of how this plays out over time.
Each parent should take heart that they can know that answer and answer it confidently. But before we get there we need to take a broader look at what a guardianship of a minor entails.
What is a Minor Guardianship?
There exist two separate types of guardianships and both must be mentioned here. There's the guardian of the person and guardian of the estate. One individual can be nominated as both, but they are two separate jobs. The guardian of the person is the individual who makes day-to-day decisions on the minor's behalf. The guardian of the estate is entrusted with managing the financials of a minor and is responsible for maximizing the portfolio of assets in a prudent way. This post is concerned with a guardian of the estate since this individual controls the purse strings for the child until they reach the age of majority.
When is a Guardian of Minor's Estate Necessary?
A person under the age of majority cannot inherit property until their 18th birthday. Therefore, someone must hold or manage the property until that date. If the amount due to the child is over $25,000.00 then Ohio law requires a guardian of the estate be appointed. You'd be surprised at how quickly $25,000.00 can be passed to a child after totaling up car values, the equity in a home after sale or a mortgage free home, checking/savings accounts, retirement plans, etc.
Why to avoid Guardianship of the Estate?
Probably the most common reason to avoid an appointed guardian of the estate is because of the cost associated. Court costs and attorney fees are constantly required as the guardian must report yearly on the status of the funds. A bond fee is required for surety and must be two times the value of the estate. These expenses can come out of the child's funds but will obviously lower the total money handed to the child when the time comes.
The second reason to avoid them is the hassle associated with minor guardianships. The guardian must take a court mandated training course, must file a yearly report with the court, must keep meticulous records, and must file for approval for any money spent on the child's behalf.
Finally, likely the most important reason to avoid guardianship of the estate is because at 18 years old the child comes into a windfall. While each child matures at different levels than his/her peers, most children at the age of 18 who receive a lump sum of money will not manage that money efficiently.
Avoiding a Minor Guardianship of the Estate
The prudent parent will do well to consult an estate planning attorney to avoid a situation like the one above. A carefully drafted pour over will or trust can help avoid this unpleasant procedure and allow more flexibility to support the child in their minor years, plus distribute the money slowly overtime to avoid the sudden windfall upon high school graduation.
If you or a loved one are interested in discussing your estate plan please contact our office for a consultation today. www.braunlawoffice.com or (513) 887-4560
Joseph M. Braun is an attorney in Hamilton, Ohio. He specializes in estate planning, probate, real estate, adoption law, and other general practice areas. You can connect with him by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or liking him on Facebook