I am one of four siblings. Our grandfather was a thrifty man who worked until he was 80. A friend of his was a stockbroker and his grandfather advised him on investments. When Grandpa died, we were shocked to learn that he had saved millions of dollars. At some point I learned that he had bequeathed his estate to our mother, his only child, to live on, and the director passed on to his grandchildren. That sounded like a good plan.
But then I found out almost by accident that our mother had hired a lawyer to set up our grandfather's trust company, which only recognized two of his grandchildren, our mother's two darlings, and their children. The Trust does not recognize that there are more than two grandchildren and more great-grandchildren. I don't know if mom just lied to the lawyer or what.
""I know that Grandpa just trusted her word for what he signed."”
My grandpa was 90 when he signed the trust. He signed it at her home, not in front of a lawyer. The Witnesses, Mom's friends, didn't know what the conditions were either. I know Grandpa just trusted her word for what he signed.
My grandfather was a just and kind man who loved all of his grandchildren and probably had a stronger relationship with the two grandchildren that Mom avoided because they lived in the same town and had regular contact with him while the other two apparently didn't think about it. When I asked mom why "my grandfather" was doing this, she transparently gave false reasons and confirmed my suspicions that she was doing this.
As I looked at it, I learned that we could have contested it when he died if we had known, but at the time there was no law that required anyone to be told there was a trust or how the conditions were. Such a law was later passed, but when I learned what she had done it was too late to contest it.
Now we have two siblings who each inherited millions of dollars and their three children inherited the same thing, and then two siblings who have been disfellowshipped and their two children who have also been disfellowshipped. I asked the siblings who were inheriting if they would share with the others. They willingly admit that this is not what our grandfather would have wanted, but they will not share it.
It's partly about the money, it's a life changing amount, but it is more than painful to realize that mom left this cruel legacy to her dad. In addition, their actions have destroyed any chance that their children or children will enjoy positive relationships after their death.
Can you think of anything that could help?
You can email The Moneyist with financial and ethical issues related to the coronavirus to email@example.com and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.
What happens next depends on when your grandfather died and what state you live in. The limitation period for challenging a trust after the settlor's death can vary from a few days (in California only 120 days) to several years. depending on the state. Even if your grandfather left a will, the trust would override the will as it was in effect before his death. In addition, only a person who has a financial interest in the trust can contest it.
"Similar to the challenge of a will, the reasons for the challenge of a trust often include the allegation that the settlor (trust maker) was being inappropriately influenced or that the settlor was out of his mind at the time the trust was established." According to the law firm Landskind and Ricaforte. An escrow trustee will determine if there is enough evidence of a proceeding based on medical records, testimony of possible fraud or forgery, and whether legal filing requirements and contract laws have been met, the firm adds.
Don't let the no-contest clauses put you off. “No-contest clauses are often included in trust agreements to prevent interested parties from challenging the trust's terms in court,” says RMO Probate Litigation. “While no-contest clauses are a very common element in family trust documents, most states don't really enforce them from a practical point of view. In other words, even if a trust has a non-compete clause, most courts in most states will still hear your case. "
Too often, family members are caught by surprise in such situations and waste valuable time processing the enormity of a person's actions, asking each other how this happened, and why someone would go to so much to cut people off. If their anger and shock subsides, it may be months or even years after the act. The longer you wait, the more troublesome it gets.
By emailing your questions, you consent to their being posted anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you agree that we may use your story or versions of it in all media and platforms, including through third parties.
Check out Moneyist's private Facebook Group in which we look for answers to life's thorniest money problems. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Ask your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or take part in the latest Moneyist columns.
The moneyist regrets not being able to answer questions one by one.
More from Quentin Fottrell:
• "I get compassionate fatigue": My parents said they would rather quit their jobs and lose everything than get the COVID-19 vaccine
• My violent ex never added to the mortgage on our home. Do I still owe him half the equity if his name is on the deed?
• My brother's soon-to-be ex-wife embezzles money from her business. How do we find hidden accounts?
• “Grandmother died recently and left a seven-figure estate. Needless to say things are getting messy ’