By Attorney Tammy A. Weber, CELA*

Many of you want to provide for children, grandchildren or great grandchildren who are minors. When drafting a will or trust for a minor beneficiary, a big consideration is when, and under what circumstances, that beneficiary receives the money or property. Even if the beneficiary seems levelheaded around the time the will is being drafted, the level of maturity may be impacted by external influences.

A brain is not fully developed until the age of 25. An adult uses the rational part of the brain, known as the prefrontal cortex, to make decisions. Adolescents do not do this as well as adults; minors typically use the emotional part of the brain, the amygdala. Brain development and the timing of it makes it tricky to determine when a beneficiary will be able to handle an inheritance. See Understanding the Teen Brain.

You have worked hard, saved, sacrificed, and would rather not have your grandchild take the inherited money and run to the nearest car dealership to buy a car with a sticker price of over six figures and drive it to the nearest casino. The Pennsylvania Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (PUTMA) is one of the ways you can plan ahead for management of assets until your minor beneficiary is responsible. In your will, you can use PUTMA to name a custodian or guardian to control, hold, manage, and invest the property of a minor. The minor is considered the “owner,” but is restricted by the custodial relationship.

You will decide in your will or trust who will serve as the custodian for a minor beneficiary. If you do not list anyone to serve as the custodian, the default person to serve as custodian is the biological parent(s) of that minor beneficiary. You may not want your son-in-law to serve as custodian of your minor grandchild should your daughter predecease you. You may choose to have your son be the person in charge of money going to your minor grandchild. Alternatively, a professional trustee can serve.

PUTMA provides a default age of 21 years old when custodial property must be released to the minor beneficiary. However, there is also an allowance for an extension to age 25.

If you would like to have your inheritance held to a later age such as 30 or 35, you can do this with a testamentary trust. For more information on how trusts could help in planning for minors, view How Trusts Can Help Your Children.

It is worth the investment of time and a consultation fee to meet with a Certified Elder Law Attorney to unpack and understand the options available to you within your personal and unique circumstances.

Tammy A. Weber is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and the Managing Attorney of the law firm of Marshall, Parker & Weber, LLC with offices in Williamsport, Jersey Shore, and Plains. For more information visit or call 1-800-401-4552.

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