What happens if I inherit 1/2 of my mother’s house by trust and the other half goes to her husband by a separate trust?

UPDATED: Sep 16, 2011

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What happens if I inherit 1/2 of my mother’s house by trust and the other half goes to her husband by a separate trust?

My mother and her second husband made out 2 individual trusts, each leaving me half of house they owned, in order to maximize my inheritance tax deduction. The second husband died and my mother now wants to change her trust, leaving her half of the house to her third husband. At her death, can I require that the house be sold and the profit split between me and the third husband, or can he prevent the sale? Also, can she write in her trust that he can live there until his death if I am 1/2 owner upon her death?

Asked on September 16, 2011 under Estate Planning, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

This type of question is way too complicated for this type of forum.  Generally speaking, if your mother retained the right to change or revoke the trust that left the house to the second husband then yes, she can now change the terms of the trust and leave it to her third husband.  Can she create a trust that gives him a life estate in half of the the house and then grants you ownership?  Granting a life estate is a common thing but in only half a house?  That sounds difficult as it violates your right as an owner.  Forcing a sale is not easy.  Speak to the attorney you consult with about an action for partition.  And bring the trust document. Good luck. 

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