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Sibling being difficult over DCs trust fund... what to do?

(39 Posts)
CornflakeMum Thu 17-Jul-14 16:01:36

When my Dad died last year he left half of his estate to his grandchildren (my children), and a quarter each to my sis and I. She is unmarried/has no children.
She was quite angry about it at the time, as she felt she should have been divided equally between her and me, but that's another story...

Anyway, my DCs money was left in trust with both Sis and I as trustees. I handled all the probate and estate administration as Dad had previously made me Power of Attorney in his later years, and it seemed simplest for me to carry on & handle things. Sis was an executor, but had power reserved so I could deal with everything, so she wasn't involved at all, and didn't ask/want to be.

So now the administration is over, and we need to sort out what to do with my DCs trust fund money. But sis won't engage about this at all! She has not offered any ideas, asked about it at all, and whenever I try to raise it via emails she just ignores them. The solicitor said I should ask her to step down and allow my DH to be the other trustee (he has useful legal/tax experience which would really help to manage things) but my sis has refused! She says she thinks it is her 'responsibility' to remain to check that DH & I 'don't do anything stupid with the money'.
She hasn't made any suggestions about how to invest it. She hasn't initiated any meetings/ conversations. She has only met my DCs about three times in their entire lives, and she has never shown any interest in them - doesn't even know when their birthdays are/ has never sent them a card.

I think she is being spiteful now and using this as a way to 'punish' me for her not getting what she thinks is her 'fair share' of the inheritance, but this incompletely unfair as Dad's will wasn't my choice, and I am the one who has done all the work.

Anyone know how I could force her to step down?

MisForMumNotMaid Thu 17-Jul-14 16:08:47

I think I can see where you're both coming from. What is she actually stopping you doing though?

Could you treat her more like a silent but informed partner! So you and your DH make all the decisions but email her the details to rubber stamp?

From her perspective she anticipated half her dads estate and got 1/4 plus an unpaid job and now not only do you get her 1/4 (meaning you have 3 times what she has) you're trying to take the last bit of responsibility from her bestowed on her by her dad.

AMumInScotland Thu 17-Jul-14 16:19:10

When a death is still so raw, it's difficult to deal with feeling that you've been treated unfairly, as it all gets into a complicated tangle of emotions - missing her dad but also being angry at him at the same time no doubt makes it hard to deal with things.

Why not offer an olive branch?

Tell her that you appreciate her concern to make sure you make sensible decisions, and ask how she'd like to arrange things to make this work for all of you.

She may not want to 'make suggestions', but wants to be able to veto anything dodgy. Well, that's fine, isn't it? Just look for suitable investments, forward her the details saying "We're thinking of this one because of x, y, and z. Do you have any worries about that?"

Then if she doesn't get back to you, you can assume she doesn't have any problem, and go ahead with it.

CornflakeMum Thu 17-Jul-14 16:34:48

Thanks, but I don't think it's as straightforward as that really.

Her idea of anything dodgy is anything other than a high street current account. At the moment the money (over £240k) is sitting in a bank account(s) earning less than inflation.
She has no experience of anything financial - shares, ISAs, bonds, investment trusts or owning property.

I have suggested buying a small property to rent out, but she says it is 'too risky' as the property market might fall. I have pointed out that we could keep it for 10+ years and just take the rental income to contribute to DCs future Uni fees etc.

She is just blocking ALL suggestions I come up with, but refusing to offer any of her own.

I can't invest anywhere without her signature.

MisFor - I don't understand your post - I don't get any more than her (both 1/4) - the grandchildren get the other 1/2 - they may be my children, but they are not me.
If she wanted to share the responsibility that would be great, as that would also mean sharing the workload!

Floralnomad Thu 17-Jul-14 16:51:36

It doesn't sound like you have a close relationship with your sister and she does sound like she is angry with how things have been shared out . Would it be possible to perhaps suggest to her that you split the inheritance 3 ways - you ,her and the DC in return she stands down as trustee . That way your family lose out slightly but she might see it as a fairer split of your dads estate . It could be that she feels you influenced you dads decisions as you had power of attorney .

AMumInScotland Thu 17-Jul-14 16:51:44

Well, I'd probably agree with her that buying property isn't the safest thing to do with money. Why not look at investments with some of the big names that she'll have heard of? That can't look dodgy!

NotActuallyAMum Thu 17-Jul-14 16:56:54

So...she's got £120k and she's still not happy?? shock

<Unhelpful>

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 17-Jul-14 17:01:25

You could threaten to sue her for negligence if she won't co-operate? E-mail everything, have it all in writing, and ask your solicitor for their opinion.

It is her legal responsibility to manage it properly, and letting it all sit in a bank account losing ground to inflation every day is ridiculous.

sanfairyanne Thu 17-Jul-14 17:08:14

i agree with amuminscotland

is this trust for her potential future children as well? if not, i can see why she feels disengaged, especially if it came as a surprise

CornflakeMum Thu 17-Jul-14 17:12:17

Floral - the estate is all finalised so the issue isn't really about changing the legacies. You also aren't permitted to alter the terms of any minor beneficiaries inheritance, so the only way for her to have more is to take more of my share hmm. I have already lent her some of my inheritance to allow her to move house.

AMIS - I've done quite a lot of research which shows that property is a much better bet long term than shares/ unit trusts.
We also already have some money invested in the stock market for our children in the future, so it would be good to do something different with their inheritance

Originally my sis also expressed concern that the DC would be able to 'get their hands on it' (her words) at 18, which is why I suggested property, as it's not something which you can just walk into a bank and withdraw on your 18th birthday!

I think Alibaba might be right sad

wafflyversatile Thu 17-Jul-14 17:12:32

So just leave it in the bank. You don't have to build an empire with it.

CornflakeMum Thu 17-Jul-14 17:20:18

Sanfairy - wills can't leave inheritance for potential future grandchildren hmm

She is unmarried and 54. She is unlikely to have any children (although that's not really relevant).

I wasn't involved in the will in any way, and it was written over a decade before my father died. As an executor I was just responsible for executing my father's wishes, not second guessing his reasons, or re-writing his wishes re inheritance!

I can understand that my sis is angry/ hurt but she shouldn't let this cloud her judgement regarding her duties as a trustee to two minor beneficiaries.

I am just getting so frustrated at being unable to move this forward! I am having to do all the legwork, and she just either ignores me, or says no to everything.

AMumInScotland Thu 17-Jul-14 17:24:19

I do think you need to cut her some slack.

She is hurting, grieving, and struggling to deal with the fact that her father left his estate in a way which feels to her to be unfair.

Obviously I know nothing about the details of your situation, and it may or may not be fair. It was certainly entirely up to him to leave it how he chose.

But....

I've lived most of my adult life knowing that when the time came, my parents would be leaving their money equally between their three children. That's something my parents chose to spell out, but it's also something that a lot of people assume if nobody has said otherwise.

To be thrown the curve-ball that, because she has been unlucky enough not to marry or have children, she also isn't going to get an equal share of the estate must have hurt like hell.

And she can't get angry at her father about it, because he's not there to shout at. And getting angry at dead people makes most people feel guilty.

Which leaves you to be angry at.

Leave it in the bank for a year, in a higher interest account if possible or just where it is. If she still won't or can't engage with you about it at that stage, then by all means start talking about solicitors letters.

But try to see why she's not in a good place right now.

CornflakeMum Thu 17-Jul-14 17:25:01

"So just leave it in the bank. You don't have to build an empire with it."

No, but trustees DO have responsibility to invest trust fund monies sensibly, and leaving it in the bank losing 2% value every year wouldn't be regarded as sensible I don't think?

CornflakeMum Thu 17-Jul-14 17:26:51

AMIS - I see what you're saying, but it has already been in the bank for 18 months!! This is an on-going saga which I am finally trying to sort out...

Moreisnnogedag Thu 17-Jul-14 17:30:46

Is there a way to compel her to give up her trustee status? I mean if you've kept all correspondence trying to deal with it, surely there is a legal route here?

Fwiw I think her behaviour is really spiteful because it's not cornflake children that are responsible.

EmptyNestAgain Thu 17-Jul-14 17:34:22

As trustee, your sister has a legal duty to manage the amount appropriately. Ignoring it is not appropriate, no matter what her personal gripes are. If she is ignoring her responsibilities, you may have to go down the legal route, as Alibaba says.

EmptyNestAgain Thu 17-Jul-14 17:35:09

What has she done with her own share, by the way?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 17-Jul-14 17:35:59

AMum the way you are saying that makes it sound like the OP has been given extra money which she is choosing to pass to her children, which is not the case.

This does highlight though, why I think it is a good idea for people to tell the people who are expecting to inherit their money what they've decided to do.
My grandmother died recently, and the terms of her will are only known to two of her three children, this was what she wanted. The third is going to go batshit when she finds out that half of her third has been willed directly to her children because her mother didn't trust her not to spend it all.

ajandjjmum Thu 17-Jul-14 17:41:43

This is an example of why it is so important for people to discuss their Wills with the members of their family who are/might be affected. I do have an element of sympathy with your Dsis, but perhaps if her concerns had been raised 10 years ago, your DF could have adjusted his Will, if he wanted to. On the other hand, she's lucky to get anything!

Floralnomad Thu 17-Jul-14 17:43:25

Why are you calling them 'minor beneficiaries ' ,from your OP you all get equal shares ie a quarter each .

Ladyflip Thu 17-Jul-14 17:44:24

OP, you need to check that you do have full investment rights, I.e. That the trustees do have powers of investment in real property. It is not always the case that they do.

Secondly, if yr sister only had power reserved then she doesn't have to act as a trustee presuming that the will says you are appointed as executors and trustees. So you may be able to proceed without her involvement anyway.

You do have a duty to maximise your trust investment within the rules of the trust you have, so as trustee you will have to show that you have taken professional advice on investments, not just relied on your own research.

As to your sister, if she refuses to either engage and it is necessary for her to do so then ask her to retire and appoint your DH or solicitor in her place. Do you understand trust law sufficiently to take this on by yourself? E g are you aware of 10 year charges etc.?

Good luck.

ShadyLadyT Thu 17-Jul-14 17:45:06

I can see why she is upset but it was your father's choice - not yours or hers. If she is being obstructive, or not acting in the interests of the beneficiaries of the trust, you probably could try to get her removed but of course you need to get legal advice. i can see why you'd want to buy property for your DCs - much better than having it in the bank. How very tricky. Get legal advice without delay.

Ladyflip Thu 17-Jul-14 17:45:07

A minor is someone under the age of 18 floralalmond

Bryonyc Thu 17-Jul-14 17:49:58

They are minor benficiaries because they are minors - ie not yet 18.

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