| Read Time: 4 minutes | Trusts

Leaving a legacy for your children through a trust fund is a thoughtful and generous gesture. In Texas, trust funds offer a valuable tool for ensuring your children’s financial security and managing assets responsibly for their future. Establishing a trust can help you protect your assets, potentially reduce estate taxes, and avoid probate. 

However, navigating the complexities of trust creation can be challenging, and even well-meaning parents can make mistakes that have unexpected consequences.

Understanding these common pitfalls can help ensure your trust fund effectively serves its purpose and protects your children’s future. Below, we look at the eight most common mistakes parents make when setting up a trust fund for a child in Texas and how to avoid them.

Inadequate Planning and Preparation 

Failing to plan adequately is one of the most frequent trust fund mistakes parents make. Is your children’s college education your top priority? Do you have children from multiple marriages? Do you worry about caring for a disabled child? Setting up a trust fund involves more than simply transferring assets. It requires a thorough approach considering your family’s unique needs and circumstances.

Not Understanding the Different Types of Trusts

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” trust. Different types cater to specific needs and objectives. Choosing the wrong kind can hinder your goals. Standard trust options in Texas include:

  • Revocable trusts. Allow you to retain control over the assets during your lifetime and modify the trust provisions as needed. The assets are transferred to the beneficiaries upon your passing.
  • Irrevocable trusts. Offer more significant tax benefits but relinquish control over the transferred assets. These can be beneficial for asset protection or qualifying for certain government benefits.
  • Testamentary trust. This type of trust is created under the terms of your will. It goes into effect upon your passing and becomes irrevocable but is changeable at any time throughout your life.
  • Crummey trust. Named after a well-documented court case, you can distribute assets to beneficiaries—often children—over time.
  • Special needs trust. This type of trust allows a person with a disability to have money put aside for their care without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits.

Consulting an experienced Texas estate planning attorney can help you navigate the various trust options and choose the one that best aligns with your goals and circumstances. 

Not Clearly Defining the Trust’s Purpose and Distribution

A well-defined trust purpose outlines the intended use of the funds and the timeframe for distribution. Ambiguity in this area can lead to confusion and potential conflicts among beneficiaries. Clearly state:

  • The specific goals you aim to achieve with the trust, such as funding education, starting a business, or providing long-term care;
  • The age or specific life events at which your child will receive distributions; and
  • Contingency plans in case your child predeceases you or encounters unforeseen circumstances. 

Also, consider including provisions for any changes in circumstances or unforeseen events that may impact the trust’s purpose or distribution. 

Failing to Fund the Trust Properly

Creating a trust without transferring assets into it renders it essentially meaningless. Remember, the trust doesn’t own assets until you formally title them in its name. Transferring cash, investments, real estate, or other valuable possessions can be a part of the process. Texas recognizes various methods for funding irrevocable trusts, including the “Texas two-step” method, which involves creating a revocable trust and subsequently transferring assets to an irrevocable trust.

Choosing the Wrong Trustee

The trustee is the individual or institution responsible for managing the trust assets according to your wishes. Selecting the right person is crucial, as their decisions directly impact the trust’s success. Common mistakes include:

  • Choosing a friend or family member based solely on sentimentality. While trust and familiarity are important, consider the individual’s financial acumen, experience managing assets, and willingness to fulfill their responsibilities.
  • Appointing someone too young or old. You should consider age-related factors like health, energy levels, and potential longevity. 

When selecting a trustee, you should prioritize competence and dependability to ensure the trust’s long-term viability. 

Neglecting to Name a Successor Trustee

It is wise to have a backup successor trustee should the primary choice be unable or unwilling to serve, which can provide added security for the trust’s administration. If you or your original trustee becomes incapacitated or dies, a designated successor trustee takes over the management of the trust. 

Ignoring Tax Implications

Trusts can have complex tax implications depending on the type of trust, the assets held within it, and the residence of the beneficiaries. Consulting a tax advisor alongside your estate planning attorney can help you understand potential tax consequences and minimize negative impacts.

Neglecting to Review and Update the Trust

Life circumstances and your child’s needs can evolve. Failing to review and update the trust regularly can lead to misalignment with your current wishes and your child’s changing needs. Schedule periodic reviews with your attorney to ensure the trust remains effective.

Beyond the Basics: Seek Expert Guidance

Setting up an inheritance trust fund for your child is a significant decision. Though it may be tempting to go the DIY route, creating a trust requires careful attention to detail and knowledge of the legal aspects involved. Using only online resources or attempting to draft the trust yourself can lead to errors and potential legal challenges. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney ensures your trust is legally sound and effectively fulfills your goals.

Take the First Step Toward a Secure Future with Robbins Estate Law

At Robbins Estate Law, we understand parents’ unique challenges and can help you craft personalized trust solutions that safeguard your children’s financial future. We guide you through the complexities of Texas law and establish your trust with meticulous attention to detail.

Contact Robbins Estate Law today to schedule a consultation and discuss how we can help you create a personalized trust fund that meets your family’s needs.

Author Photo

Kyle Robbins

Kyle Robbins is the founder and sole owner of The Law
Offices of Kyle Robbins. He received his J.D. with honors from the University of Texas School of Law and his B.S. in Food Chemistry and Microbiology from Oklahoma State University.

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