Estate Planning Considerations for Families with a Wide Age Gap Between Children: Insights from a Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyer

Oct 24, 2023 | Minnesota Estate Planning

When there’s a significant age difference between your children, estate planning can require extra attention to detail. You’re not only considering their immediate needs but also forecasting the challenges each child may face at different life stages. As your Minnesota estate planning lawyer, I’m here to highlight the nuances you should consider in such situations.


1. Education Funding

If one child has already completed their education and the other is yet to start, you might want to set up an education trust or 529 plan for the younger child. This ensures that funds are reserved specifically for their future educational needs.

2. Guardianship

For a younger child, it’s crucial to determine guardianship in case of the parents’ untimely demise. Consider discussing with your older child (if they’re adults) if they would be willing and capable of assuming this responsibility. If not, identify another trusted guardian.

3. Trust Distribution Stages

Instead of distributing assets at a particular age, consider milestone-based distributions. This can be tailored for each child based on their needs and maturity levels.

4. Protective Measures for Younger Children

Consider establishing a trust that safeguards the younger child’s inheritance until they reach an appropriate age or milestone. This can protect them from potential financial mismanagement or undue influence.

5. Address Potential Family Dynamics

When there’s a considerable age difference, an older child might assume a more parental or advisory role for their younger sibling. It’s vital to communicate your wishes openly with all family members to prevent potential conflicts or misunderstandings about inheritance.

6. Update Medical Directives

Ensure that medical directives and powers of attorney are up-to-date. As your older child matures, you might decide to grant them specific responsibilities or roles in these areas.

7. Long-Term Support for Special Needs

If one of your children has special needs, setting up a Special Needs Trust can ensure they have the resources they require without jeopardizing their eligibility for certain public benefits.

8. Retirement and Dependency

If you’re still supporting a young child, your retirement planning might differ from someone whose children are financially independent. Ensure you factor in ongoing expenses and potential future obligations.

9. Periodic Review

With the varying needs of children of different ages, it’s crucial to periodically review and adjust your estate plan as they grow and their needs evolve.

Getting Help 

Estate planning with children of varying ages requires a flexible and foresighted approach. It’s not just about ensuring fair distribution but catering to the unique needs of each child. Working with a Minnesota estate planning lawyer can ensure that your wishes are articulated effectively and all your children are provided for according to their needs.

If you find yourself navigating this intricate scenario, know that compassionate and helpful guidance is available. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss the best strategies tailored to your family’s unique situation. Contact us at 763-244-2949 to schedule an appointment.