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By: Scott Grossman on September 23rd, 2016

Dad’s dumb move prevented his son from inheriting

Be smart when it comes to the terms of the trust

A grieving son contacted me because his father’s second wife’s niece received his father’s property. His father created a revocable living trust after getting married for the second time. The trust was a typical A-B trust. The dad’s dumb move prevented his son from inheriting.

The second wife tried to carry out the terms of the trust. She began the process to fund the two subtrusts after her husband’s death but she died before she could. Before her death, she realized her late husband had taken a large bank accounts out of the trust and retitled it so that he held it with her is joint tenants. She recognized that he intended for this bank account to be part of the trust and wanted to honor his wishes. The second wife died before this could be done. This resulted in the large bank account never making its way back into the trust.

Father’s change of title to hold bank account in joint tenancy, not his trust, stops son from inheriting

The second wife’s niece became the trustee after she died. She convinced the second wife to put her on the bank account as a joint tenant. When her aunt died, the bank account passed to the niece as the surviving joint tenant.

The father’s son simply couldn’t believe what he found out. Unlike most cases that are ripe for trust litigation, this one didn’t have an obvious bad guy. All the mistakes this man’s father made, he made on his own. While there are lots of legitimate reasons to begin trust litigation, you just can’t win because someone did something dumb.