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My understanding is that if I contribute to a Roth IRA then I have to start taking distributions in my seventies, no?

No, at least not under current law. That can certainly change over 2-3 generations.

To accomplish your goal, you would likely need an irrevocable trust. You would likely need to higher a third party administrator to ensure the trust rules are followed.

A Roth could come close to accomplishing your goal but there are some tax consequences and always the possibility to a change in the tax law that could completely invalidate your goal so I would look to the trust.

As an alternative, there are scholarship services that allow you to create and fund your own scholarship with your own rules so you could create a legacy fund via those services (at a fee) and establish rules by which they invest the money and by which they pay it out. In my experience, such services typically work with a specific universtity but I assume that there are some that do not have such restrictions.
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