A strategic estate planning tool that you may want to consider is creating an irrevocable trust for child’s college fund. Funds transferred to an irrevocable trust remain subject to trust terms and conditions until the established time for distribution. A trust can protect your child’s college fund from creditor’s demands. Also, an irrevocable trust has its own tax ID number and is not considered an asset when calculating your taxes thus providing certain tax benefits. Trust property is excluded from the trustor’s gross estate for federal tax purposes.
Additionally, a trust does not go through probate. Therefore, if a child needs money for school, she can access the funds immediately in the event of your death without being subjected to a lengthy and costly court process. Furthermore, a trust can be set up with restrictions regarding how and when your money will be distributed to your child.
How your trust is drafted and reported on FAFSA dictates the eligibility of your child for need-based financial aid. A common error is reporting the full value of the trust fund when there are proportional shares of ownership in the trust. Also, a typical mistake families make is reporting trust fund amounts incorrectly when ownership of the income and principal from the trust fund are split.
You should consult with your qualified and experienced South Florida estate planning attorney to review the terms of your existing trust to advise you as to what your options are under your trust or draft one for you to meet your objectives concerning your child’s educational needs and goals.