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Thu Feb 6, 2020, 05:04 PM

I have a question about a trust set up many years ago by my parents.

I hope someone can help me with this. I have spoken to lawyers but, as you know it costs money everytime you make a phone call.

My father died in 1990 and about 6 years ago my mom became disabled because of a stroke and she had put my brother as Power of Attorney and Trustee.

To say there were fights is an understatement. I had to sue him to get him to comply with a law that says he needs to be transparent with me.

But now we are getting along and I don't want to start anything, even though a lot of things bother me.

He brought down a portfolio review when he visited a couple weeks ago. What pissed me off and still pisses me off is the name on the account is his name and his wife's name. Underneath that is the name of my parent's and the name of the trust. When I asked him about it he said that he and his wife have an account with these people also and that is why their name is on it.

He says that when our mother dies, (she is slowly fading away at a home near me. It has been a very long illness for her) the money in the trusts are automatically cut in 2 and we both get half. I do have a copy of them and they list me and him as the beneficiaries.

I don't trust his wife. And he has been ill. I believe he will be fair but if something happens to him can she steal this money?

I do not want to sound greedy but I have had medical problems in my life and have not been able to work like I used to and if this money is taken away it would make life very hard for me.

Also, can I speak with the trust lawyer? Because before I had to get my own attorney after after it was all over the trust paid for most of my fees but I know that when he has a question he just calls them up and has the trust pay for everything!

Thanks for any help in advance.



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Reply I have a question about a trust set up many years ago by my parents. (Original post)
Maraya1969 Feb 2020 OP
elleng Feb 2020 #1
Rorey Feb 2020 #2
enough Feb 2020 #3
demosincebirth Feb 2020 #4
Phoenix61 Feb 2020 #5
Maraya1969 Feb 2020 #6
Phoenix61 Feb 2020 #7
Maraya1969 Feb 2020 #8
elleng Feb 2020 #10
Maraya1969 Feb 2020 #11
elleng Feb 2020 #12
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2020 #9
Maraya1969 Feb 2020 #13
A HERETIC I AM Feb 2020 #14
PoindexterOglethorpe Feb 2020 #15
Maraya1969 Feb 2020 #16
JudyM Feb 2020 #17
Maraya1969 Feb 2020 #18
JudyM Feb 2020 #19

Response to Maraya1969 (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 05:11 PM

1. The funds should 'automatically' cut in half, edited

should/may be a 'TOD' (transfer on death') provision on the account, but due to lack of clarity, I STRONGLY encourage you to spend the $ on an attorney NOW.

YES, you can speak with the trust lawyer. DO IT.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 05:12 PM

2. You're definitely not sounding greedy

I wish I had the answer for you, and hope that someone here does, but you definitely deserve to have the assurance that you will get your half. I think if something should happen to your brother before your mother passes, his wife will just be entitled to his half. But honestly, it should be locked down.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 05:14 PM

3. You need a lawyer, and not one recommended by your brother.

Yes it will cost money but no advice you can get on an Internet forum will be able to ensure that you are treated fairly in this situation, and it sounds like a lot is at stake for your future.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 05:21 PM

4. If you are a senior you might be able to get free

Legal advice. In California, they do have free legal advice for seniors. They might even file papers for you. Good luck.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 06:21 PM

5. Talk to who ever has the account.

Thatís odd. It sounds like he opened a joint account. You can contact the trust lawyer and ask but I understand why you may not want to do that. I have no idea why their name is on the account but it doesnít seem like it should be. Can you contact whoever has the account?

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Response to Phoenix61 (Reply #5)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 08:25 PM

6. I have a feeling if I contact the company they will not even listen or talk to me because

my name is not on the account. My name is in the trust fund as a beneficiary only.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 09:18 PM

7. Well, you could tell them you just wanted to make

sure they had your contact info. Are you going to leave your funds with them or will you be transferring them? You could say you were calling to get info on the process etc. Iíve found that if I can get people chatting they will tell me all kinds of things. For some reason people trust the person on the other end of the phone. Once you get them chatting, slide in a question about why are those names on the paperwork.

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Response to Phoenix61 (Reply #7)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 09:34 PM

8. That's a good point. Thanks.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #6)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 10:40 PM

10. BENEFICIARY of a TRUST is an IMPORTANT person,

and should NOT be ignored.

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Response to elleng (Reply #10)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 11:56 PM

11. Thank you! I'm going to contact them tomorrow.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #11)

Fri Feb 7, 2020, 12:11 AM

12. GOOD!

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Response to Maraya1969 (Original post)

Thu Feb 6, 2020, 10:23 PM

9. If I may......

1st, as a beneficiary, you are ABSOLUTELY entitled to transparency.

You said you have a copy of the trust document(s). Have you read them carefully? Are the assets held by the trust strictly securities? Cash? Other marketable instruments? Real estate, as in the family home, for instance? Is any of it held in a tax qualified account like an IRA or an Annuity, for example? If real estate is involved, how is it titled? In the name of your parents or the name of the trust? The answers to these questions are important to you, as the way the assets are liquidated, settled and disbursed after your mom passes can vary greatly.

2nd, as Trustee, your brother has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, and that means YOU and him, not just him. He can be subject to a lawsuit by you or even the financial institution if he is found to be acting recklessly, i.e. spending money from the trust that he shouldn't be. You said his and his wife's name appear on the portfolio. I wouldn't be too alarmed at this, as long as there is indication that he is the trustee and/or is acting "For the benefit of" the good of the trust. Having said that, I am by no means an attorney, so you should use what I have said with that knowledge.

3rd, as to his wife and her possibly wedging her way into this, that question may depend on the laws of your state and exactly how the trust is worded. Definitely a question for an attorney.

4th, I can't see any reason at all why you would not be able to speak with the lawyer who has been handling this (or why he wouldn't speak to you), and it is absolutely a good idea to do so, especially if he is the same one from the first draft of the trust. If that's the case, he very likely knows your mom and may have a good idea of what her wishes truly are.

The Power of Attorney allows him to make financial and legal decisions for whoever granted it, so if your mother gave him that authority over HER, then I would suggest you look at what is going on VERY carefully. If he has it solely over the Trust assets, at least he can't do things in your moms name she might not really want. Is your mother lucid? Do you speak to her about these matters?

If the entire estate held in the trust amounts to only a few thousand dollars, then it might behoove you to try and understand the moving parts of all this on your own - a daunting task, I know.

But.....if the money involved is substantial, as in many tens of thousands or into the 6 figure range and above, then retaining an attorney would absolutely be in your best interest. If you can afford an attorney in either case, it is always wise to seek experienced legal counsel.

Money does strange things to people, and you and your brother are not the first siblings to have a conflict over a possible inheritance, and surely won't be the last.

Best of luck, and if you care to, please update as things move forward.

Some links, just in case you haven't checked the Google machine already!!:

https://www.elderlawanswers.com/5-rights-that-trust-beneficiaries-have-15244

https://www.formyplan.com/estates-trusts/2015/08/20/what-legal-rights-does-a-trust-beneficiary-have/

https://info.legalzoom.com/rights-beneficiary-irrevocable-family-trust-20440.html

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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 7, 2020, 12:27 AM

13. Thank you so much for all this information. I feel much relieved after

reading through yours and others comments. I will read through the links you gave also.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #13)

Fri Feb 7, 2020, 01:03 AM

14. Best of luck.....

and this is the exact kind of thread/question that makes me proud to participate in this group. Some really excellent and knowledgeable people check in here, and if we did nothing more than allow you to take a deep breath and look at things differently, then that can only be a good thing.

Be careful and studious. Ask questions, and if you don't understand the answer, ask again. Your parents formed a trust for a reason. Your brother has a duty to discharge his responsibilities to that trust honestly and with integrity.


Here's hoping for an amicable resolution.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Original post)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 12:31 AM

15. You really do want to talk to an attorney who does wills and trusts.

Before you speak to an attorney make sure you have copies of everything. All the trust documents and all of the portfolio. Then read those documents. More than once might be a good idea. Make notes of anything that is not crystal clear to you. That way, when you do go in to speak to the attorney you will know exactly what your questions are.

And no, if something happens to your brother his widow cannot somehow cheat you out of your share of the estate. Well, she could if you stand by and don't do anything. But that won't happen, will it? Once concern you might have would be that it could be possible that everything will be spent by the time your mother dies.

Do make sure you know exactly how much is currently in the trusts and just how much of it is being spent each month for your mother's care. Which means you'll have a rough idea of what would be leftover down the line.

You are not being greedy. You are simply wanting to establish your place in the inheritance. And the more you know, the better off you are.

Do not sit by passively on this, but do what you need to do to clarify everything.

A personal note. A couple of years ago I re-did my own will and trust work. I sent copies of everything to my son, right now my primary heir, and also to my sister, because she will get part of a life insurance policy, or everything if my son were to pre-decease me. I also sent my son a copy of a recent month's copy of my investments. I honestly feel that being completely open about everything made the most sense.

It does feel as if your brother is being pretty open to you, and I hope everything works out well in the end.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #15)

Sat Feb 8, 2020, 01:49 AM

16. Thank you so much. My brother emailed me back and suggested I talk to the same

trust attorney yesterday. I was going to do that today but there was a problem with something in the house and I couldn't get away.



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Response to Maraya1969 (Original post)

Sun Feb 9, 2020, 04:18 PM

17. Call the local bar association, explain the situation and ask if they know of any pro-bono

possibilities, i.e., an attorney who could do a free or very low cost consultation with you.

Consider calling the company that holds the account as soon as possible after your mom passes (donít mean this to be insensitive)... if they know she has passed there would be less opportunity for sibling/wife shenanigans.

AFAIK, the money wonít ďautomaticallyĒ be cut in 2 and distributed... instead, he as trustee is responsible for doing that, and he will be paying other expenses, such as funeral, out of the trust, so he will have some flexibility in whatís spent before you receive your distribution.

The lawyer who drafted the trust, and if one exists, the will, should be willing to speak with you, IMO. If your mother is able to speak with him with you thatíd be helpful. You want to know what all the assets are... some may be titled in the name of the trust, but there may be other assets that havenít been. Safe deposit box, other accounts, etc. If there is a will, who is the executor?

Look in the trust to see who is the contingent trustee if your brother is not able to perform trustee duties when your mother passes. If there is no contingent trustee and your mom is competent to amend it, get yourself on there as contingent trustee so thereís no question about that.

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Response to JudyM (Reply #17)

Sun Feb 9, 2020, 08:16 PM

18. My brother had put his daughter as successor trustee. I don't know if that is still

the case. That is a hard issue for me also.

I am calling the trust lawyer tomorrow. He gave me that phone number and they live rather close to me.

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Response to Maraya1969 (Reply #18)

Sun Feb 9, 2020, 08:37 PM

19. Good luck!

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