Can I bypass my children, and give my estate and assets to my grandaughter?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I live in California. Because my son and daughter are irresponsible and I am somewhat estranged from them, am I able to bypass my son and daughter with my estate and put the assets into a trust for my grandaughter. If so, do I choose someone to administer the trust like a financial institution or a CPA, or can a trusted friend be named for that function?

Expert Answers

Ah good, questions with clear answers.

Under California law, you have the right to leave your property to whoever to you want to inherit it. You do not have to leave any property to your son or daughter. However,in your will you MUST expressly state that you leave your son and your daughter nothing. If you do not expressly disinherit a child in your will, California law presumes that you have (accidentally) forgotten to mention that child, and therefore that child has a statutory right to a certain percentage of your estate.

You can definitely leave your assets in a trust for your granddaughter. I recommend that you choose as trustee the person you believe would do the best jo managing that assets in that trust for your granddaughter's benefit. You should also name a successor trustee, in case your original choice cannot serve or continue to serve.

Generally, I amcnot in favor of institutional trustees for family trusts, unless you know no individual who you think would do a good job, and is willing to do it. However, sometimes, a financial instution is the only reasonable option a person has, and it;s better than nothing.

I suggest you see a lawyer to assist you in preparing the trust for your granddaughter. There are a number of issues which may come up when preparing this type of trust where it's helpful to have thes kills of an estate-planning specialist.