What if the deceased father left bequests to his 3 adult children in his Will but there are no assets or funds in the estate to cover these bequests? Can they go after the surviving wife who was provided with funds through an alter ego trust?

An alter ego trust created by the deceased my husband transferred funds RRSP’s
and cash investments to his wife myself upon his death. The matrimonial home
has been in the wife’s my name for many years and I continue to live there. Can
the children go after my assets to cover the bequests the Will made if the Estate
has no assets?

Asked on January 17, 2018 under Estate Planning, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, a will does not guaranty that anyone will receive anything, does not control what the testator (person making the will) does with his assets pre-death, and does not give beneficiaries the right to go after other people's assets, even if they had received those assets from the testator.
A will's provisions should be read as follows: if will says, "to my children, I leave my home," what it really means is "IF I own a home  at the time I die, I leave it to my children." The will only controls what will happen to assets owned by the deceased at time of death (or which come in to the estate for the deceased after death, such as if someone paid off a loan the deceased had made to them).

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