My parents don’t like my husband

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Q. My parents don’t like my husband, and they want to put the money that I will inherit in a trust. How restrictive will that money be?
— Loved daughter

A. A whole lot of restrictions can be put in place.

When parents leave money to children, the parents can’t control how the assets are used, nor can they control the ultimate destination of the assets if the beneficiary transfers the funds somewhere.

But by using a testamentary or living trust, parents can place lots of restrictions on the money, said Shirley Whitenack, an estate planning attorney with Schenck, Price, Smith & King in Florham Park.

“A testamentary trust is written into the will and comes into existence when the person who made the will dies,” Whitenack said. “A living trust can be created before death and can be funded with assets directed into the trust through the will.”

The trust terms can vary widely.

For example, the trust can provide that the trustee can distribute assets for the beneficiary’s health, education, maintenance and support, or it can give the trustee sole and unfettered discretion to decide how the assets should be distributed, Whitenack said.

It can also specify that the balance of the trust assets be distributed when the beneficiary reaches a certain age, or it can specify that the balance of the trust must be distributed to other beneficiaries, such as the child’s children, upon the death of the child, Whitenack said. By directing what happens to the assets upon the child’s death, the child will be unable to pass the assets to the child’s spouse upon the child’s death, she said.

“A parent can further restrict the distributions by designating a trustee other than the child who will ensure that the child receives distributions in accordance with the trust terms,” Whitenack said. “In addition to restricting the distribution of assets, such a trust can also provide important protections against creditors of the child and her spouse.”

You weren’t specific about why your parents don’t like your husband, but we hope it’s something you can all work on together — not because of some future inheritance, but to improve your relationships.

If your parents have told you they want to put your future inheritance in a trust, we’re guessing there’s some kind of communication with your parents on this matter. If they’re willing to have a discussion, ask questions. Perhaps the answers will help you understand what they’re thinking, and why, and make you feel better about their decision.

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This story was first posted in October 2015. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.