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Controlling one's estate

Could you advise me about avoiding probate or a will for a small estate. I would like to have my children receive the little I have and also so they can't spend it foolishly. What do you suggest? -- P.C.

You can't avoid probate or a will and still control how your children spend your money after you are gone. You can establish a trust, sometimes called a "spend-thrift trust," that limits the amount and timing of funds disbursed to your heirs. You may establish a living trust to supplant a will and avoid probate, or you can write such a trust into a will.

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In either case the trustee, following the guidelines you establish, disburses your estate assets. The trustee will not be able to monitor detailed spending, but the trust could provide that funds be disbursed at specific ages, upon the attainment of specific educational goals, or for a house purchase or some other purpose.

You can expect to pay attorney's fees to set up the trust and pay trustee fees to manage it. My recommendation: Teach your children to manage their money effectively while you can and avoid the problems of attempting to control their spending after you're gone.