Dueling Trusts Safeguard Your Loved Ones

trust_estate_planning_lawyer_los_gatosAs parents age it becomes easier for family or strangers to take advantage of failing comprehension, eye sight, or hearing.  What follows is a common theme.

Example of Living Trust Number One

Peter, the son of Fred and Ethel, moves into the family home when he loses his job and his wife divorces him.  He says he is living in the house rent free for the purpose of to taking care of the parents.  He does indeed provide some services.  He takes his mother to her doctor’s appointments.  He supervises his father’s medications.  His housekeeping leaves something to be desired.  When Fred and Ethel finally decide to do an estate plan they are feeling grateful that Peter has “put his life on hold” to be with them.  They want him to have the house.

Example of Living Trust Number Two

Lorna, a daughter living in another state, finds a copy of the trust in her parents’ house on a routine visit.  (She does not visit very often because she has young children and believes her parents are in good hands.)  Lorna is outraged that her parents are giving the house (the major asset) to Peter.  Suddenly she decides that Peter is taking advantage of them.  She arranges an appointment to take Fred and Ethel to another attorney.  They prepare another trust which divides the estate into equal shares among the children.  Peter discovers the new trust and is angry with Lorna’s interference….and so on. Who is right?  And when will this end?

One Solution to Two Living Trusts

One way to solve this problem is to have a family meeting.  A discussion of the care provided and the compensation that Peter already receives (free room and board) would be on the agenda.  This would help Lorna see that Peter is providing services.  The family can place a value on the services.  One solution is to have Peter accrue a monthly salary that is commensurate with the duties he performs.  Periodic review would be appropriate when the parents’ health is declining and they need increasing care.  Peter would collect the accrued salary against the estate once his parents pass away.

Why it Helps to Have a Good Attorney

A good attorney does more than just prepare legal documents.  One of the duties of an attorney is to offer real solutions to family issues like this. In my years of experience I have seen so many families and find I really love offering them an elegant way to resolve complex circumstances. Even if your situation seems beyond repair, racked with hurt feelings and so intricately wound that you believe there is no solution possible, I encourage you to use the Free Consultation Certificate to get some initial questions answered. You will likely find that there IS a solution that will suit all parties involved. The first step is yours.


estate_planning_living_trust_preparation_losgatos_Diane M. Brown, Esq.
Working every day to keep my clients out of court!
It’s your money… Let’s keep it that way!
Call 408-364-1234



This blog contains general information and is not meant to apply to a specific situation. Please seek advice of counsel before proceeding as each case is unique.

Photo Credit: Diane Brown’s photo by Lisa Whalen and a special thank you to Corbis via the Microsoft Image Library for the use of additional images found in this blog post.

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