YANML but I have some questions about how this inheritance might work.
March 19, 2021 2:03 PM   Subscribe

My sick mother before she died and made sure that before she and my dad put the estate in trust, it probably had a value of 800000k, and the trustee would be my dad and when he died then my brother and I would get 30 percent each and my dads children from a previous marriage 20 percent each. My dad has now admitted that he has been supporting a my brother in full and in part for several years and has very little money left. My brother is now 38 and I think he’s been supported for maybe 10 years. He’s presenting as mentally unstable and delusional but when my dad tried to get him to access services in order for him to help my brother went in and got a clean Bill of health. So I don’t know how much of the mental symptoms are real or being used to manipulate (threatening suicide etc)

I’ve now read emails and letters from my dad that clearly show elder financial abuse, coercion and manipulation. Screaming at him in restaurants, talking about suicide. Demanding money. Frankly he was like this even when my mom was alive and I have a lot of bad memories and haven’t been keen to have him in my life.

Anyway, My dad can be quite secretive so I’m not surprised it’s taken this long to find out. Now he has cut my brother off from anymore financial support. Sibling is now homeless with problems and headed to California with his stimulus check.

Now first of all there won’t be enough left for me to receive an inheritance (which I know my mother would have wished or she wouldn’t have gone to the effort to organize the trust)

and second of all- as a double burden my father has expressed hope that my family can help support him when it’s time for the nursing home.. which I assume we will help with but my dad originally had plenty of money to make sure he was comfortable.

Now, I guess this is part 2....my grandfather (through my moms side) will most likely split what would have been my moms inheritance between my brother and I. I will be discussing this with my uncle because if my grandpa disinherited my brother and leave it to me or my children (my moms grand children) it would allow me to bail out this situation for my father and feel I got to keep what my mom meant for me to have which would have come during an expensive time in our children’s education.

It it’s not possible for that to happen because of time or age etc- then I’m under the impression I could sue my brother and put a lien on his future inheritance. But here is where I get confused, what would I need to do? What kind of lawyer could answer the specific questions I need? There’s been mismanagement of a trust due to the elder financial abuse of the trustee and it’s taken my inheritance, my hope would be to get the whole amount on behalf of my children and then buy a condo for my dad to live in so he could put money aside for future care. Is this possible to make happen?

This has been very overwhelming so please be nice to me. Hey
posted by pairofshades to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need to find a lawyer who is experienced with wills, trusts, estates ... I guess "estate lawyer" is the most common term for the specialty.

Before you see the lawyer, make sure you have copies of all the wills, trusts, court papers, letters, mental health papers ... anything that has anything to do with the situation. Don't go in and try to describe the problem orally.

I guess you're hoping to get hold of your brother's share of your grandfather's estate? (You mention your uncle in this connection, but it's not clear how he's involved.) Instead of suing people, why not start by asking your grandfather to change his will and not give any more to your brother. If your grandfather gets on board, he could also include your father in the will, instead of making you the middleman.

Or, your grandfather could help you and your father now, while he's still alive.
posted by JimN2TAW at 2:56 PM on March 19, 2021 [6 favorites]

You want an attorney that deals in trusts -- your local bar association can provide a referral.

Regarding everything else, it's probably best to plan your life with the assumption that you won't receive a penny from any inheritance. It's not fair, but the reality is that you have no control over your dad's/brother's/uncle's/grandfather's actions. It's quite possible that your grandfather can't be bothered to change any of his estate planning in order to bail out your dad (however indirectly through you). It sucks and I am really sorry that you are going through this, but I think you are setting yourself up to be angry at your mother's family of origin for your parents' mistakes and your brother's abuse. I would just work out in your own head how much you are willing and able to help out your dad without inheritance.
posted by stowaway at 3:03 PM on March 19, 2021 [14 favorites]

Sorry, this sucks. I think there are two tracks here -- protect you and your family, and protect your father.

You need an attorney with a specialty in family law, possibly a trust litigation attorney. Depending how the trust is structured, there may be legal remedies. But there may not be.

You also need to talk about eldercare planning, especially issues around Medicare/Medicaid since the latter has a clawback period of five years when the recipient has given away assets. Eldercare can get very expensive and you don't want your family to go broke.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:40 PM on March 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

My experience has been that helping your dad will make him an attractive target for your brother. Buy your dad a condo? Great, now brother has a rent-free place to live. Your dad is blaming your brother without taking responsibility for his own part in the dynamic, or knowingly illegally breaking the Trust. He has (rightfully) lost your trust.
posted by saucysault at 10:41 PM on March 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

I agree with saucysault; anything you give your father now could still be taken from him and I am sure brother has his eye on that potential inheritance from your grandfather as well. I wouldn't blame your father too much though; financial abuse like that is really intractable. Anyone as determined and desperate as your brother is always going to find some kind of leverage. If there is anything you can control to some extent, it's care for your father that does not depend on an infusion of money from another inheritance. If your family is located in the US, people are constantly going broke over healthcare.

When my family members have died, there have been squabbles over inheritance almost every time. The less money, the more people fight. I have found talking to a lawyer to be very bracing. I had excellent luck one time with a lawyer who was on a list provided by employee's assistance at work and who was willing to talk to me and make phone calls for $2k over a period of months. If you have a financial planner, you could talk to them.
posted by BibiRose at 4:59 AM on March 20, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you everyone!

I’m not counting on an inheritance and don’t technically need it but I do feel that in my family there has been a kind of shame if you wanted to ask anything about it and I think that’s prevented me from asking questions before this got so bad. And I think there’s some emotional feelings there because of what I feel my mom’s wishes were, they were most certainly not this!

Thanks for the heads up about how costly elder care can be. Gulp. This is all such a pity because it didn’t need to be this way.

So, I’m going to go on a fishing expedition and see what my options are! Thanks so much everyone.
posted by pairofshades at 6:10 AM on March 20, 2021

If you haven't, I think you might want to have a conversation with your maternal grandfather and make sure that he knows what is going with your brother. I know this is conversation that is very hard and awkward for many people. Do it from the perspective of providing information, not asking him to give you your brother's share. At the very least, grandfather still want brother to have the money, he should put brother's share in trust with a trustworthy trustee. This is totally your grandfather's action and option (assuming he is still mentally competent to be making changes to his will)

I think you also want to get your father to talk about someone about his financial situation. I know family values can be different but in your shoes, I would take a strong stance that you will be there to support your father with your love and time but he should not count on any financial support from you at all so he will need to figure out his options. If he really believes he can't use as a back-up, he might possibly be more resistant to your brother the next time he comes around since he knows he will be ruining his own future. When the time comes that he is old and needs help, you can always re-evaluate the decision but for now, being very very clear that you love him but you need to take care of your family and/or your own retirement first.
posted by metahawk at 10:12 AM on March 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

First point: you don’t owe your parents anything. Whatever you do, do out of love. You’re not “expected” or “supposed” to take care of them.

Second point: if you don’t need the money, like really truly need it, just let things go. Sounds like the money is gone. That’s a load off your back, right? Lawyers get expensive quickly and rarely change outcomes all that much. A few hundred k seems life changing but can disappear fast if you’re not careful.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 11:43 AM on March 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

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