Whitney Houston's Will Revealed: Bobbi Kristina's Inheritance Through A Trust

Entertainment news sources first reported of the details contained in Houston's will this past Wednesday. While Houston's will apparently doesn't mention specific assets, it leaves all of her furnishings, clothing, personal effects, jewelry and cars to her surviving children. Houston had one child, a daughter, named Bobbi Kristina (19).

Houston's money will be put in a trust. Her sister-in-law and manager, Patricia Houston, was appointed as administrator of the estate.

Upon turning 21, Bobbi Kristina will receive part of the trust's fund, with another installment at the age of 25,  and the remaining balance at age 30.  Aside from these lump sum payments, Houston's trustees can also give her money from the trust for various purposes which include funding for school, a home, or in order to start a business.

Houston's Will Typical of "Simple" Estate Plans

While the detailed language of the will is not available, what has been reported on, namely that Houston left her entire estate to her "surviving children," without getting into specifics, suggests a type of will called a "Pour Over Will." A Pour Over Will contains a provision or provisions whereby any remaining assets that have not been discussed individually or as a class will automatically pour over into a trust. The will's main purpose, then, is to give a sort of framework and name the beneficiarys for the estate.

The point of the catchall provision is to ensure that nothing gets left out, as anything contained in the estate that is not addressed in the will will be dealt with according to the state's intestacy laws. Intestacy means without testament/without will, and these laws typically outline the manner in which a person's heirs will inherit their estate should they die without a will. For example, in California, a person's children inherit, then their parents, then their siblings, and so on. In this case, because Houston died with a surviving child, Bobbi Kristina would have inherited her entire estate anyway, but the way that the trust was set up puts in place a set of protections to ensure that the inheritance is handled in the way Houston desired.

The technical term for the requirement that Bobbi Kristina be a certain age in order to receive the payment from the trust is called a condition precedent. This means that she must meet the requirement before she can collect the money. If she does not reach the age, then her inheritance will not vest. The reason for requiring these minimum ages is to ensure that young children do not come into a large amount of money that they can potentially spend unwisely, or become subject to undue influence by their guardians or advisors. In this case, the requirements are offset by the exceptions for important expenses that she may endure.

Thus, the surviving children provision, trust, and minimum age requirements (with exceptions), are not uncommon Estate Planning tools. An Estate Planning Attorney can tell you which of these tools may be right for you.