“Leave it to Beaver” is a classic American television sitcom that aired from 1957-1963.  Central to the show were the exploits of Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver, a young boy living in suburban American.  It also featured his parents, Ward and June, and his older brother Wally.  Although “Leave it to Beaver” ended almost fifty years ago, the show has a place firmly rooted in pop culture infamy due to its idealization of the perfect, suburban American family.  When talking about a “perfect” family, people have been known to refer to them as “The Cleavers.”  Although “Leave it to Beaver” is a charming show and a throwback to a different era, few families can claim to be “The Cleavers.” Most families have a few Eddie Haskell’s in the mix.  Eddie was Wally Cleaver’s wise-cracking, trouble-making best friend.  There is no such thing as the ideal family.  All families are different and every family has its own unique circumstances.  This is why the versatility of a trust is so important.  A trust can be customized to meet the needs of any type of family situation.

Many express concerns when deciding how to leave their estate to their descendants.  Some may want to leave an equal share of their estate to their children, yet one child is financially irresponsible.  Or maybe a child has struggled with substance abuse.  Trust’s can be setup and contain clauses to deal with circumstances such as these.  A child’s share can be left in trust, meaning that they receive their share at the discretion of a trustee based on a set of provisions unique to that beneficiary.  Trustees can be instructed to issue funds only for the health, education, maintenance, and support of that individual.  An individual’s trust can be pursuant to a spendthrift provision that protects their share from creditors or marital claims.  An individual’s trust can be pursuant to a substance abuse provision which prohibits all but a minimal distribution to that individual if they are having issues with substance abuse.  The point being that a trust is a living document that can be customized and changed to meet any family’s unique circumstances.

For additional reading:

A Living Will:  An Essential Estate Planning Document

The Common Terms of Estate Planning

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