February 9, 2007
I'll confess: I'm pretty particular about managing my money. Many Fools have learned the hard way what can happen when you let your finances go, so they take steps to make sure they'll never have to suffer losses from neglect again.
Yet just because you obsess over every financial statement you receive or check your stocks every hour of the day doesn't mean that your loved ones necessarily feel the same way. My family thinks I'm a bit nuts when it comes to money, and I know they'll handle things much differently when I'm gone. However, I want to make sure that somebody's looking closely at the family finances to make sure they'll be all right if something happens to me.
That's the good thing about setting up a trust. With a trust, you can name someone who has earned your confidence and will do a good job taking care of your family's finances after you're gone. If you don't know anybody personally, you can find professional fiduciaries who will be there to advise and assist your family for a reasonable fee.
In addition, trusts let you fulfill your responsibilities as a parent even if you can't be there yourself. Without a trust, leaving money to your children can be a risky proposition; counting on young adults to have the maturity necessary to protect and preserve an inheritance is dangerous. In a trust, you can set the conditions and give your trustee instructions on when and how much your kids can withdraw from the trust for specific purposes. Trusts are incredibly versatile; you can set them up for your spouse, charities, life insurance, your home, or even for your pets.
If you want to make sure your loved ones are protected after you're gone, trusts are the ticket to sleeping better at night. In the meantime, however, you can keep on taking care of your finances yourself -- even if your family thinks you're a bit nuts because of it.
What's sending Fools' hearts aflutter? Go back to our intro page to see what else we have a crush on.
Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has a trust of his own. The Fool's disclosure policy wants to be your Valentine.