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TRUST FUNDS


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#1 cadguy2

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 07:51 AM

Hello! Can someone please explain to me what a trust fund is, and how can someone can get money from it?

My wife, our two children and I live in NC. In February of this year, my wife's father passed away. My wife inherited some money, but because she's handicapped with memory loss due to an automobile accident, he left her money in a "trust fund." My wife has two siblings, an older sister and brother. Her sister has power of attorney, and she has control over his estate and her money!

Recently, my wife and I have found ourselves in a financial burden. My 92 year old father fell a couple of weeks ago at his home, and so he's in a nursing home now. As a wedding present 16 years ago, my dad told us that he would pay our rent each month as long as we remained married. Well, he can't help us anymore. I work, but I only make $8.00 and hour which is not enough to pay all our bills, and the rent too! My wife get's a very, very small Social Security check each month, but even with it, we're a low income family.

I asked my wife to call her sister and see if she could transfer some money into her bank account so we can pay the rent ($550.00) which is due in 5 days. Her sister told her that she can't help us. The money is in a "special needs trust" and cannot be used to pay the rent, pay bills, or buy groceries! We can only use it for other needs such as; gas in our car, repairs to the car, and we can use it to get cable TV hooked up. Time Warner Cable has a bundle; TV, phone, and Internet. We don't need cable TV, what we need is to pay the bills, and the rent so we don't get evicted, which is going to happen if the rent isn't paid!

As her husband, what are my legal rights to this money?

Thank you.


#2 Ted_from_Texas

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 08:01 AM

There's nothing in your message to indicate you have any rights whatsoever to "this money."

Whether your wife can get anything out of it, and what it can be used for, depends on the terms of the trust as it was set up by her father. Each trust is different. If you have reason to believe your sister-in-law isn't being straight with you, I suggest you and your wife take a copy of the trust document to a local trust or probate attorney and get his or her advice on the matter.

Meanwhile, since you can no longer count on your own father's generosity, I suggest you start looking for ways to increase your own income or reduce your expenses, or both.

#3 cadguy2

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 08:15 AM

Thanks for replying. No, I believe my sister, and brother-in-law are being straight forward with us. They are too close a family.

As far as increasing my income; I'm going to be filling out on-line applications for part time work at *******, and other businesses in and around the city.


Edited by FindLaw_AHK, 01 August 2012 - 08:16 AM.
This post has been edited to remove personal or identifying information. -Moderator


#4 Fallen

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 09:32 AM

A "power of attorney" doesn't give someone rights over an estate. We cannot know whether you mean the father in a will (or in a separate trust document) set up a trust for your sister and the sister was appointed trustee.

"As a wedding present 16 years ago, my dad told us that he would pay our rent each month as long as we remained married."

That's kinda a crazy wedding gift, but it sounds like you didn't take advantage of the breathing room to save money, get advanced training or education, etc. For 16 months would be reasonable, but 16 years when you know your father could get hit by a bus at any time? Ouch.


I presume the reference to a "special needs trust" means your wife is eligible for SSI.

It's not technically true that a SNT means that the trust can't buy a house or cover rent, but the SSI benefits may be reduced. Your wife can go discuss this with someone at the SSA office and convey to her sister that she ought to be conferring with a trust attorney.

Meanwhile, it sounds to me like you need to forget this SNT money exists. (I also would not limit your efforts to "on-line applications"; that just doesn't make any sense. I'd also go outside the city if necessary ... and look into advancing your education or getting technical training, and even consider whether you eventually need to move to a different state/place where there are better opportunities.)

Good luck.

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)


#5 pg1067

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 10:49 AM

Hello! Can someone please explain to me what a trust fund is, and how can someone can get money from it?


If you google "what is a trust" or "what is a trust fund," you can get a wealth of detailed information. In most basic terms, a trust is a legal mechanism whereby a person (known as the trustor or settlor) transfers an asset to another person (known as the trustee) for the benefit of someone (known as the beneficiary). In some cases, the trustor and trustee or the trustor, trustee, and beneficiary can be the same person. A trust is often (but not always) created by a document called a trust instrument or trust agreement. As for how you get money from a trust, that depends on the terms of the trust agreement, the type of trust, the applicable state law, and your relationship to the trust.


My wife, our two children and I live in NC. In February of this year, my wife's father passed away. My wife inherited some money, but because she's handicapped with memory loss due to an automobile accident, he left her money in a "trust fund." My wife has two siblings, an older sister and brother. Her sister has power of attorney, and she has control over his estate and her money!


I'm not sure what the power of attorney part means, but I'll assume your sister-in-law is the trustee of the trust.


As her husband, what are my legal rights to this money?


None whatsoever. As for the conditions under which your wife can get money from the trust, that depends on the terms of the trust instrument. Your wife should have received a copy of the trust instrument. If not, or if she/you can't locate it, she should ask her sister for a copy.

#6 FindLaw_Amir

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 11:31 AM

You may find more information regarding this subject matter by visiting the Estate Planning Center and reading about Trusts.
FindLaw's Legal Heads-Up! newsletter can provide you with the legal resources you need to make informed decisions when law touches aspects of your everyday life.




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