Can my brother be nominated by my parents in their will as the ‘owner’ of my part of the inheritance so that my creditors do not come after it?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my brother be nominated by my parents in their will as the ‘owner’ of my part of the inheritance so that my creditors do not come after it?

My parents own two pieces of land that they want to leave, one each for
me and my brother. I have a large personal debt, whose value perhaps is
equal to the value of the land that I will inherit. In order to prevent my
creditors from coming after that land, my parents feel that I should not
be listed as the owner of that land and instead my brother should be, but
I will still have the right to live there and do whatever I want with that
property. My question is, ‘Can my brother, if he is nominated as the
owner of that property, deny me my right to that property in any way?’
Will I be forfeiting my right to my inherited property if he is listed as the

My parents think that him being the owner on paper will not prevent me
from exercising my full rights as the true owner, and this is only until my
debt is settled. I am not convinced and want to get some legal advice
about this matter.

Thank you.

Asked on April 6, 2019 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If your brother is simply the owner, he IS the owner: it will be his property, not yours, to do with as he likes: sell it, rent it out, live in it, etc. You will have no right to it and he can remove you at will if he wants. 
If your parents want to let you live there while protecting it from creditors, there are ways to do so: they can give you a "life estate" to live in the property for the rest of your life while giving your brother the "remainder" interest to inherit (or his children, etc. inherit) after you pass away. Or they can put the property in a trust for your benefit, so the trust, not you, owns it. The one thing to not do is simply make your brother the owner. Your parents should consult with a trusts and estates attorney about the best way to accomlish what they want.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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