Is it normal procedure to have husband and wife as trustees, instead of blood related family members?

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Is it normal procedure to have husband and wife as trustees, instead of blood related family members?

I have just been given a copy of my 88 year old mother’s Will. I was very surprised when i saw that the trustees listed were my sister, my brother and my sister’s husband but not me. When I questioned my mother as to why I was omitted, she was as surprised as I was. I feel as though she is being taken advantage of because she becomes confused and forgetful very easily. Also, is it normal procedure to have the Will written so that if any of the children pass before my mother, when my mother passes, that portion of the Will shall be divided between the remaining children and not given to the spouse of the deceased?

Asked on December 27, 2012 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

John Ducey / Law Offices of John G. Ducey,PC

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

There is no "normal" with a Will.  The Will is written with whatever the wishes of the testator are.  I have written wills with some very strange requests.  If you believe she was not of sound mind when the will was completetd you can challenge the will but you will need proof.

 

John Ducey

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am confused by your question.  Your question asks about Trustees but the document is a will.  Trustees are the people who administer a trust.  A will is an entirely separate document.

I suspect you are talking about a will and the beneficiaries listed in the will. It sounds like your mother's will gives assets to your sister, your brother, and your sister's husband with nothing to you.  If this was your mother's intention, then she is entitled to write her will this way.  However, if it was not her intention, then someone either made a mistake or is taking advantage of your mother (known as "undue influence").

I suggest that you consult a probate or estate planning attorney in your area about this.  He or she can look at the will, ask questions, and advise you based on all of the circumstances.  You may find an attorney who will provide a free consultation or you may have to pay a small fee for the advice.  It is still important to obtain this consultation so that you can protect your mother, if appropriate, or ease your mind.

It is not unusual to provide that a deceased child's share of an estate goes to the surviving children rather than the spouse.  People who prepare wills (the "testator") can make any provision they like.  In my experience, testators rarely provide for the spouses of deceased children.  They provide for grandchildren but rarely in-laws. 


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