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Trust gives half of principal to Prince William on his birthday

Turning 30 is often a cause for reflection as a person closes the books on one decade of one's life and crosses the threshold into another. But for Prince William, who reached that milestone last week, attaining 30 years old meant something far greater. According to the terms of the trust set up for him and his brother by his mother, Princess Diana, he is now entitled to one-half of the trust principal.

Although the day-to-day affairs of the royal family are indeed a long way from Texas, this particular event offers estate planning information that easily crosses the Atlantic. Diana left an estate worth an estimated $20.4 million when she died. The government took a significant share of that in taxes, but during the princes' adolescence and young adulthood it has grown to approximately $31 million, of which Prince William will receive roughly $15.5 million.

Interestingly, Princess Diana provided that her sons would be able to access their shares of the trust corpus once they reached the age of 25. After her death, however, her executors altered the trust's terms. They raised the age of inheritance to 30, but allowed the brothers to collect interest from the trust after turning 25.

Houston residents may have to confront issues similar to those faced by Princess Diana when she created the trust for her sons. Specifically, when is a person capable of handling an inheritance? Parents are in an excellent position to evaluate their children's financial maturity, and they can structure an estate plan that affords beneficiaries an amount of control over a potential inheritance commensurate with their financial restraint and acumen. Trusts are particularly well-adapted to dictate when and under what conditions a beneficiary can inherit assets.

Source: MSNBC.com, "Prince William turns 30, gets $15.5 million Diana inheritance," Natalie Finn, June 20, 2012.

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