Mom Won’t Give Up Control – Monterey Herald


Question: My mother lives a few states away and I am her only child. She needs help managing her finances on a daily basis and it’s too difficult for me since I live so far away. She has worked with our family lawyer and accountant for years and they are happy to help. She refuses this help. She thinks she’s fine and doesn’t want to give up control. I’m worried she’ll be abused, scammed, or miss important payments like life insurance premiums or house tax payments. What can we do to make her give up this part of her life?

Reply: It is understandable that seniors are reluctant to give up their autonomy. Think about it, older people may have to forgo mobility due to physical issues or be refused license renewals, which equates to a loss of the ability to come and go as they please. You hope your mom will trust her finances to a professional, but without your help she might not recognize her own vulnerability.

Perhaps this is a good time for you, your mom, and her counselors to think about various solutions that will preserve her sense of independence while keeping her safe. Maybe the accountant can review her finances with her on a quarterly basis? This would catch one of the big problems like insurance and taxes. Over time, mom may feel more comfortable letting the accountant take care of more of the day. You should point out to my dear mum that she has a strong team in place. It’s a team she’s intentionally built over the years because she trusts and counts on them. Let her enjoy as much independence as possible, but also point out the benefits of enjoying the safety net that she put in place so long ago.

Question: My sister and I are beneficiaries of my mother’s trust and I am a trustee. The lawyer says we have to wait four months to receive anything from the trust in case there is a trust contest. Like I said, my sister and I get everything and are ready to sign something, if necessary, which we agree with mum’s trust. The lawyer says no, we have to wait four months. Which give?

Reply: When a person dies and their estate is to be distributed by way of a trust agreement, the Trustee sends a “Trustee Notice” which begins a 120-day “contest” period. This period allows anyone, not just you and your sister, to enter a competition in the trust. Yes, you and your sister may agree with the terms of the trust, but what happens so soon before her death, your mother decides to change her trust and offer a distribution to a friend or another relative?

If your lawyer allows you and your sister to take the trust assets before the deadline expires and the friend or relative then presents a valid amendment, you and your sister may need to return the assets. active. This is tricky because if you and your sister have spent or otherwise invested your inheritance, the funds may not be available for return. All in all, it is best to let this period run out. This way you turn off the possibility of a new trust or trust contest being presented, once and for all.

Liza Horvath has over 30 years of experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is a Chartered Professional Trustee. Liza is currently President of Monterey Trust Management. This is not legal or tax advice. If you have a question, call (831) 646-5262 or email [email protected]

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