What to do if my father passed away 5 years ago and left the family rental business to my mother and I want to protect my inheritance?

My mother is now trying to get things in order. My dad said it would be a 50/50 split. The rental property is not in a trust or LLC. All property is paid for and pretty much runs itself, my mother pays the taxes, rents out vacant buildings and handles the repairs. Since my brother lives 15 min away from her she asks his advice. I live 3 hours away. Recently my mother is mentioning a living trust. I have also gotten information that my mother’s Will is in my brother’s safe instead of the bank safety deposit box it was once in and that I had access to. I also heard he is asking for 60% and leaving me 40%. What should I do to protect my inheritance?

Asked on March 10, 2013 under Estate Planning, Texas


Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

This is a little complicated.  If your father left the family business to your mother, she owns it.  She can do what she pleases with it.  Under these circumstances, you do not have an inheritance unless your mother gives you one.

Your mother can prepare a living trust and that might be a very good legal structure for her.  The living trust can provide for the business after your mother is gone.

There is no requirement that a will be placed in a bank safe deposit box.  In fact, I strongly recommend not placing wills in safe deposit boxes.  It can be quite difficult to get them out once a person dies.

As to the % inheritance between you and your brother, your mother can divide the assets any way she wishes.  She is not required to give you anything.  I do not know of any legal means to "protect your inheritance."  The practical means of inheriting part of the family business is to be a help to the business and to your mother and brother.  Being 3 hours away does not prevent you from making a useful contribution to the business.  After all, if you inherited the entire business, you would still be 3 hours away.

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