Using a Pot Trust for Young Children

When making your will with Nolo’s Online Will, you can use a pot trust if you:

  • have more than two children
  • one of your children is under age 25, and
  • you leave your entire estate to your children.

The pot provided in Nolo's Online Will is a legal structure that will take effect if any of your children are under a certain age when you die. It creates one trust for all the property you leave to your children. You name a single trustee to manage the property for the benefit of the children as a group, without regard to how much is spent on an individual child.

For example, if you have three children and one of them needs an expensive medical procedure, all of the property could be spent on that child, even though the other children would receive nothing. While this potential result may seem unfair, it, in fact, mirrors the reality faced by many families: Some children need more money than others.

The pot trust will last until the youngest child turns an age you specify, up to age 25. A word of caution: if there is a significant age gap between your children, the oldest children may have to wait many years past the time they become adults before they receive their shares of the property. For instance, if one of your children is five and another child is 17—and you specify that the pot trust should end when the youngest turns 18—the 17-year-old will have to wait at least until age 30 to receive a share of the property left in the trust.

If instead of creating a pot trust, you want to create individual trusts for each of your children, choose to leave your property in equal or unequal shares, and then set up a trust for each minor child later in the interview.

If you leave everything– or nearly everything--to your children in a pot trust, do not set up a child’s trust or UTMA for your children. In that case, the terms of the pot trust apply to all of the property your children will receive under your will. No other property management is needed for that property. This also applies if you’ve left everything to your children in a pot trust as an alternate plan to leaving everything to your spouse. If you’ve set up a pot trust, you do not need an UTMA or a child’s trust for your children. That said, you may still want to set up an UTMA or child’s trust for any young beneficiaries of your will who are not your children. And you should still name a property guardian for you children. A property guardian will manage any property that your child owns or receives outside of your will – like income, life insurance, or inheritance from others.