I don’t want my sister-in-law to get her share of the $1.5 million – what should I do?

Dear Newsweek, Our mother passed away last year, leaving an inheritance of about $300,000 to each of the five siblings. The trustees, my sister and brother, haven’t shared any of them yet due to some legal issues. These things will be taken care of within a few months.

My brother, one of the trustees, recently passed away, leaving his widow of over 70 years old because of their spending habits. We love our sister-in-law, but she doesn’t know how to handle money and quickly blows it if it’s given to her all at once. Morally, we feel that he has a right to it, but is it possible to give it to his children to give it to him in small installments or can we, the surviving siblings, set up a legal entity to hold it and give it to him gradually? If he doesn’t get it the same way the rest of us do, he’s furious. He has SS and his small pension to live on. Their home has been refinanced several times for a credit card payment, so I’m afraid there is little equity in the home.

What can we do? Thank you in advance for your help.

Neil, Unknown

Newsweek’s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal problem, please let us know at life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work, and your story could be featured on WSID in Newsweek.

Stock photos. Heritage. The woman is wasting money. Neil has written to Newsweek to get his sister-in-law advice on how to avoid squandering her inheritance.Getty Images

Read the Trust documents and see what they say

Andrew M. Lieb, Managing Director of Lieb at Law.

What a difficult situation, and I’m sure you’re not the only one feeling the stress of something like this; letting your parents’ money go to waste is emotionally challenging.

However, when it’s a trust, its terms dictate what happens to the trust’s money. So the other beneficiaries can’t do anything to change who gets money from the trust, no matter how good-naturedly motivated you are. Perhaps your sister, who is the trustee or substitute for your deceased brother, has the power to limit sharing in the trust documents.

Often the trustee has this kind of power in the trust. That’s why you should read the trust documents and see what they say. In trusts, giving legal advice without checking the documents is like giving a doctor advice on a break without checking the x-ray. Congratulations.

It may be possible to protect the funds and support the sister-in-law

Family lawyer, Sabrina Shaheen Cronin, founder and CEO of The Cronin Law Firm.

Distributing assets held in a trust after the death of a loved one can sometimes present unique challenges, such as the predicament in this case. In general, a well-written trust document provides instructions to the trustees regarding their ability to manage and distribute the trust assets. For example, some trust documents allow trustees to distribute assets at their reasonable discretion, given the circumstances. This type of language can provide the trustee with the authority to distribute the funds to the beneficiaries as they see fit. whether as a lump sum, in installments or into a completely separate fund designed to support beneficiaries. In the event that the trust does not contain language giving the trustee broad powers, but instead contains strict instructions on who to distribute the assets to, how and when, the process of distributing the assets can be complicated.

In this particular situation, if the trust allows the trustees to distribute the funds as they see fit, it may be best to create a separate trust with the funds to be used to support their sister-in-law. However, this may expose the trustee to additional supervision and possible lawsuits if he deems it necessary to challenge the trustee’s decisions in court. If the trust document does not give trustees such broad powers and the family truly believes that the sister-in-law is incompetent or unable to support herself, it may be worth contacting an experienced probate attorney to obtain a trustee. sister-in-law. In general, family members can apply to probate court for guardianship of those who may not be able to support or care for themselves, especially in cases where mental disability can be proven. If this is the case, an experienced guardianship attorney would be able to help the family move forward and possibly obtain guardianship and manage the sister-in-law’s finances and ultimately the inheritance. under trust.

Another option could be for one of the sister-in-law’s children to obtain a power of attorney for her finances. As long as a durable or financial power of attorney is properly drafted and executed in accordance with state law, it can provide one of the sister-in-law’s children with the ability to monitor their finances and control their spending. Of course, this would have to be agreed with the sister-in-law voluntarily, and it would require the help of an experienced estate planning lawyer.

In summary, depending on the specific provisions of the trust and the laws of the state where the trust is administered, it may be possible to protect the funds and support the sister-in-law to ensure that she can continue to operate. live comfortably and carefree. Either way, it’s a loving and kind gesture to the deceased brother’s siblings to ensure that his surviving spouse is taken care of with funds they may not have to give him. Neil mentions that the inheritance should have been shared ages ago. He does not say what legal issues have prevented the distribution, or whether the trust provides guidance on whether a deceased sibling’s spouse is entitled to anything. Many unknown facts can significantly affect the outcome. Neil states that morally they all feel it is right; and when everyone is on the same page, things tend to run much more smoothly.”

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