How Should I Plan For My Minor Children?

Under the Pennsylvania Estate Law, which is also called the Decedents, Estates, and Fiduciaries Code, a surviving parent can nominate a “guardian of the person” of a child. Guardianship of the person refers to the individual who has custody of the child, who makes decisions regarding where the child will reside, the religion to which the child will be exposed, the kind of medical treatment the child will receive, and other issues that parents normally resolve. A “guardian of the estate” of a child can also be nominated to manage financial decision making for the minor. These nominations are made in the parents’ wills.

For real or personal property or property bequeathed to a minor under the terms of a parent’s or grandparent’s will, the will should include a testamentary trust providing for the management of the inherited property for the benefit of the minor. The trust should specify who will act as trustee. This can be a family member. It should also outline how the trust should be used, such as for health, education, maintenance and support, and should specify the age at which the child can receive the inheritance outright. It is critically important that beneficiary designations on life insurances, annuities and retirement accounts be coordinated so that these accounts will be distributed to the trust.

Other Frequently Asked Questions