Can my father inlaw sell the house that my mother in law left in trust to my wife?

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Can my father inlaw sell the house that my mother in law left in trust to my wife?

My wife had a falling out with her
father after her mother passed. Her
mother told her the house is in TRUST
to my wife and then to my son. Can my
father inlaw sell that house? Or can a
nursing home take it if he needs to be
put in one?

Asked on November 15, 2016 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It depends. IF the house is in an irrevocable trust not controlled by your father-in-law, *he* cannot sell it; it is beyond his control or authority. (However, depending on when the transfer to the trust was made, it is possible that Medicaid could take the house if he ends up in a nursing home, etc. being paid for by Medicaid; there is a five-year "look back" period during which Medicaid can recover or reverse transfers which were not made for fair market value during that time.)
However, if the trust was not already set up, then it is presumbly his house (he would hve inherited as her spouse) and can do with it as he likes. Or if the trust is one which he can revoke or on which he is trustee and has discretion over what happens to the assets, then he could sell the house, too. Only an already-existing irrevocable trust which he does not control owning the house would protect it from him.


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