Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Brother threatens to sue trust set up by mother to help sister

DEAR HARRY: We are three children of a rather well-off widowed mother (about $800,000 in securities). My sister and I live in the Philly suburbs and my brother lives in Maryland. Mother died last month and we found that she had a living trust instead of a will. It left my sister two-thirds of our mother's estate, with the remaining one-third going equally to my brother and me. I think this was wise of her because my sister is not well-off and looked after mother daily. Mother lived in a retirement community and her assets were all in securities and a modest amount of furniture. My brother is unhappy with this, and he is threatening to sue the trust. We were told by mother's stockbroker that he can't sue a living trust, but my brother says his lawyer disagrees. Incidentally, our brother is a retired, very successful neurosurgeon. Where do we stand on this?


WHAT HARRY SAYS: It took a lot of courage for your mother to do this. Virtually anytime a parent leaves assets to children unequally, it creates lifelong enmities. This is true no matter what the financial situation may be. It is true here. To me, your brother is a greedy toad. But he does have the right to sue the trust. It's hard to break a will or trust, but it can be done. The fact that it's possible does not make it certain that the suit will be successful. On the surface, it does not appear that he can upset the apple cart. I would urge your sister to stand firm against this toad.


Email Harry Gross at harrygrossDN@gmail.com, or

write to him at Daily News, 801 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.


Harry urges all his readers to give blood. Contact the American Red Cross at 800-Red Cross.

Harry Gross Daily News Personal Finance Columnist
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