Bloodline Trusts: No, No, No, No and No!!!

By Steven J. Oshins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished)

People sometimes talk about so-called “bloodline trusts” – trusts that specifically disinherit anyone and everyone who doesn’t share the blood of the settlor.

Although in theory this sounds like a great idea, it actually isn’t.  The problem is that it often cuts out the wrong people.  This article focuses on two specific problems with bloodline trusts.

The Worst Problem of All

The worst problem is the assumption that adopted children should be treated as though they are strangers.

The best way to describe this travesty is by example.

Assume that Client sets up a bloodline trust for his or her child and child’s descendants.  Years later, Client’s child has two children, one by regular means and the other by adoption.

Both children turn out great.  Client and Client’s child celebrate decades of birthdays for each grandchild, treat them the same in all respects and haven’t even thought about the adoption practically from the first moment they first met the adopted newborn.

Client dies, and then Client’s child dies.  The naturally born grandchild inherits millions of dollars.  The adopted grandchild inherits nothing.

How did this “bloodline trust” turn out?  Not so good!

The Other Problem

The next problem with a bloodline trust is that spouses of descendants are presumed to be bad and undeserving.

The best way to describe this second travesty is by example.

Assume that Client sets up a bloodline trust for his or her child and child’s descendants.  It specifically disallows any exercise of a power of appointment to anyone other than bloodline descendants.  Therefore, a powerholder cannot appoint it to his or her spouse.

Client’s child dies unexpectedly leaving behind a spouse of ten years and two children.  Because the trust terms do not allow appointments to spouses, all of the trust assets pass to the grandchildren, leaving the now-deceased child’s spouse with nothing.

This may sound like a great result in many, if not most, families.  However, it is a horrible result here once you know all of the facts.  This ten-year marriage was solid from the first day to the last day.  The spouse sacrificed for the good of the family and was there with the now-deceased beneficiary at the hospital every day through the date of death.  This was simply a great, great marriage and this spouse was a great spouse and was and still is a great parent to the decedent’s children.

The spouse inherits nothing.  The children receive everything.

How did this “bloodline trust” turn out?  Not so good!


Think deeply before you presume that a person isn’t a worthy beneficiary simply because that person doesn’t share the same blood.  Worthiness should be determined by a person’s actions, not by random good luck in being born into a wealthy family.


If you found this article interesting, you might also be interested in these other educational programs and products by Steve Oshins:


Steven J. OshSteven-Oshins43721143ins, Esq., AEP (Distinguished)  is a member of the Law Offices of Oshins & Associates, LLC in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was inducted into the NAEPC Estate Planning Hall of Fame® in 2011.  He has been named one of the 24 “Elite Estate Planning Attorneys” and the “Top Estate Planning Attorney of 2018” by The Wealth Advisor and one of the Top 100 Attorneys in Worth. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America® which also named him Las Vegas Trusts and Estates/Tax Law Lawyer of the Year in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2020 and 2022.  He can be reached at 702-341-6000, ext. 2, at or at his firm’s website,

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