Trust Administration

Dear Len & Rosie,

Upon my mom's death, my sister and I inherited her trust. Everything was dispersed as my mom wished, except for the following: my daughter was left an old Camaro and my nephew was left an old Mustang. My nephew produced a copy of the pink slip with my mom's signature for the Camaro, so he took both cars. I have since found a note written by my nom, saying the Camaro was not to go to Bruce.

My sister and her husband have lived on the family property for the past 20 odd years, rent free. Her son and his family have lived 20 years on an acre of our property about 4 miles away. This is where the problem is for me. I would like my nephew to pay rent for the use of the property. He owns his own mobile home and states that he put in the septic system and drilled the well that he uses. This is not the case. The septic was already there, as was the well. If either was upgraded, my dad would have taken care of it. My nephew is financially strapped, so this is causing family problems. I might add that a year before my mom's death, she had her lawyer write to my nephew (lawyer was involved because they wouldn't answer or return phone calls from my mom) asking for $100.00 a month rent. He was incensed!

What can I do to resolve this matter? My sister and I are sharing 50/50 in the cash (CD's) as they mature, but I feel her family has benefitted financially for the past 20 years. 

Virginia

 

 

Dear Virginia,

Maybe your mother's signature on the Camero's pink slip was valid, or maybe not. You'll never know, because it's been processed by the DMV already and they aren't likely to keep old title records on file. Your mother could have signed the pink slip while she was alive, leaving the name of the transferee blank, just to make things easier to transfer the car at the DMV. A lot of people do this, but it's not a good idea. Vehicles do not have to pass through probate unless there's already a probate opened for a decedent's other assets. Usually all of you have to do with a vehicle is to take the title papers, registration and death certificate to the DMV forty days or more after the date of death and fill out DMV Form REG-5.

What can your daughter do now? At this point her only option is to sue her cousin over the Camero. Unless she's a minor child, leave it up to her to decide what to do. Unless the car is in very good condition, it's not worth much and probably costs a fortune to drive.

As far as your sister goes, there's nothing you can do about your sister staying on your parents' property rent free for twenty years. Your parents let her do it. Maybe she benefited more than you did from your parents, but your parents have the right to favor one child over the other, and it sort of makes sense given that it appears your sister was not able to buy a home of her own.

With respect to your nephew, good luck. If you want to blame someone, take a look in a mirror. You're the one who let him set up his mobile home on your property. Feel free to charge him rent, and feel free to evict him if he doesn't pay, but chances are unless you can come to an agreement with him, you'll wind up spending part of your inheritance suing him because you didn't spell things out with a well-written contract twenty years ago when you let him move onto your land.

Len & Rosie