Elder Law with Frank and Mary: Planning to help your children (and grandchildren)


Most people want to leave their assets to their children and grandchildren. However, many families are more complicated, so your estate plan should address potential complications. While you should talk with an attorney, here are a few quick pointers to consider:

  • LEAVING MONEY TO YOUR DISABLED CHILD. To avoid issues in qualifying for government benefits, consider leaving assets in trust for the benefit of your disabled child. 
  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) is not “means” based, so leaving your child assets will not interfere with your child’s SSDI benefits.
  • Try to avoid conflict situations, which could happen if the trustee or trustee’s children were entitled to assets remaining upon the death of the disabled child.

  • LEAVING MONEY TO GRANDCHILDREN. If you want to help with your grandchildren’s college education, note that these funds are typically reportable on financial aid forms, and will often be subtracted from a student aid package.
  • If your child predeceased you, leaving grandchildren, consider holding all assets in a trust for the benefit of younger grandchildren. Be sure to designate a person you trust as the trustee.

  • A trust for the benefit of your child may also be helpful if you are concerned that your child’s marriage may be foundering. Make sure that the trustee’s discretion is sufficiently constrained so that the trust assets won’t be counted in dividing the “marital” assets in a divorce.

The list of potential issues could go on and on. Work with your attorney to develop the best plan for your situation to address concerns head-on. For more information, visit Frank and Mary’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/elderlawfrankandmary.  These programs also air on MVTV (Comcast 13), along with “Frank and Mary on Martha’s Vineyard,” where Sandie Corr-Dolby and I address common issues facing seniors, and available resources.  If you have any questions, please contact me at 508-860-1470 or abergeron@mirickoconnell.com.

Arthur P. Bergeron is an elder law attorney in the trusts and estates group at Mirick O’Connell.