What is a Spendthrift Provision in a Will?

A will is a legal document that expresses a person’s wishes as to how they want their property distributed after death. There are often several provisions to ensure the will is executed according to the testator’s intent. One of these provisions is call a “spendthrift” provision.

Definition of a Spendthrift Provision

A “spendthrift provision” is a clause in a will or trust that protects a beneficiary against a third party who is attempting to attach prior debts as a lien against the beneficiary’s inheritance from the will.

Benefits of a Spendthrift Provision

A spendthrift provision is advantageous in many ways. It protects a personal representative from being forced to pay the beneficiary’s share of the inheritance to a third party. This is extremely helpful in cases which a beneficiary is not able to manage their finances appropriately. A spendthrift provision will prevent beneficiaries from squandering their inheritance.

By including a spendthrift provision in a person’s will, the assets cannot be touched so long as they are not disbursed. The only money that can be touched by third parties is the money that is disbursed to the beneficiary. However, with a spendthrift provision, these disbursements can be made without being distributed in one lump sum. Rather, the testator can set an amount of money they want to distribute annually.

Example of Spendthrift Provision in Action

For example, Bob has assets that he wants his son, Dylan, to inherit one day. Dylan, however, has struggled with his spending habits and is not financially sound. Bob decides that he does not want to distribute all of his money to Dylan in one lump sum as he is afraid that Dylan will lose it to a third party or squander it on his own. Bob creates a will that includes a spendthrift provision. In this provision, Bob can decide how much money gets disbursed to Dylan on an annual basis, leaving the remainder of the inheritance untouched until all of the money has been disbursed. The money remaining will remain untouched and cannot be pursued by third parties, per the intent of Bob when he made the will.

Conclusion

Therefore, including a spendthrift provision is a great way to prevent beneficiary’s from squandering their inheritance. It is also a very beneficial way to prevent creditors from securing an interest against the assets that a testator wants to distribute as a result of the financial mistakes of the beneficiaries.

Note that this is distinct from my law practice. If you are searching for personalized legal advice for your business in South Carolina, please contact me, Wesley Henderson, directly at wesley@hhlawsc.com or check out our firm’s website for more information.

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