In the past, an inheritance was commonly given to a child when he or she reached the age of majority, at age 18. Sometimes, the gift would be held until the beneficiary reached the age of 21; however, it was unusual for it to be delayed much longer than that. Today, it is becoming much more common for a beneficiary to receive his or her inheritance in staggered disbursements instead of a lump sum disbursement which may be the best idea.
The truth is that children typically take longer to become self-sufficient adults today than they did 100 years ago. At the turn of the 20th century it was hardly unusual for an 18 year old to be finished with his or her education, working full-time, married, and a parent already. A recent study shows that today, 29 percent of all people in the 25-34 year old age group are still living with their parents. In addition, the average age for a fist marriage for women in the United States is 27 and the average age for a man is 29 today. For these reasons, many people are choosing not to leave large sums of money or valuable assets to beneficiaries until they are much older than in years past. They are choosing to stagger their gift by providing disbursements over the course of five, ten, even 20 years instead of one lump sum at an age when the beneficiary isn’t prepared to handle it.
Talk to your estate planning attorney about creating a trust or incorporating other strategies into your estate plan to help you avoid leaving behind a lump sum.