DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: When my father remarried 20 years ago, he and his wife established a trust that named me and my stepmother’s daughter as co-trustees and residual beneficiaries. Dad has since died. While my stepmother has given a copy of the trust document to her daughter, she refuses to divulge any information about it to me — not even the name of her lawyer. My stepsister won’t tell me anything, either.
Does that seem right to you? I’m moving, and I’m concerned that if I can’t at least give my contact information to the lawyer, I may never even know when my stepmother dies. — Unsettled, Prairie Village
DEAR UNSETTLED: Too bad your father didn’t give you a copy of that trust.
As it is, the situation you’ve described is setting off alarm bells. That’s because stepparents who survive their spouses have been known to try to see that only their own children, and not their stepchildren, wind up with the assets in a marital trust. While we hope that’s not your stepmother’s game, her refusal to reveal even the name of her lawyer to you, a successor beneficiary of the trust, is more than a little suspicious.
So talk to a lawyer of your own about how you can get whatever information you’re entitled to, how to prevent the trust from being looted and how to ensure that you will be notified when your stepmother dies.
If asserting your rights annoys your stepmother, so be it. We doubt it would annoy your father.
CPA sis thinks soon-to-be in-law doesn’t add up
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My brother is in love. Unfortunately, his fiancee is a liar who is completely misrepresenting her financial situation.
A while back I began to suspect that she was less than truthful — I’m a CPA, and there were things this woman said that didn’t add up — so I did a background check on her. What I discovered is that she doesn’t own the property she says she owns, isn’t a partner in the business she says is hers and is in the process of filing for bankruptcy.
Because my brother is only now getting back on his feet after a very expensive divorce, I’m concerned about the damage his soon-to-be bride could do to him and his kids, emotionally as well as financially. Should I give him copies of the documents I’ve uncovered — documents that show she’s not the person she says she is? I’ve tried talking to him about her, but he won’t listen. — Gretchen
DEAR GRETCHEN: Aren’t you forgetting something, officer? Namely that, no matter how concerned you are about your brother, you grossly overstepped a sister’s prerogative when you investigated his fiancee without asking his permission.
Still, because of the gravity of your prospective sister-in-law’s misrepresentations, yes, you should give your brother the papers that document them.
Just don’t expect him to thank you. Instead, apologize for having taken it upon yourself to go sleuthing, and make it clear that you’re saddened by what you discovered and aware of how painful the information must be to him. Plus, whatever you do, stifle the urge to say, “I told you so.”
That said, don’t assume that your brother is going to call off the wedding. He wouldn’t be the first guy to refuse to believe his intended has lied to him. And if she tells him she can explain, he also wouldn’t be the first guy to buy an improbable story.
But whatever happens after you give him the documents, remember this: Your brother is a big boy. So unless he asks for your help with his fabricating fiancee, stay out of it.
Email your questions about money and relationships to firstname.lastname@example.org.
| King Features Syndicate