Monday, February 9, 2009

Family Loyalty out the Window

So what do you think?
In Mr. Condon's Living Trust, he provided that his grandson, Jeff, would get $150,000 on his death if the grandson had reached age 25. He also provided that if his grandson was not 25 at the time of his death, his son, Milton, would be appointed as the after-death agent to manage the $150,000 and deliver it to Jeff when he reached that age.

Jeff was 19 when his grandfather died. In accordance with his grandfather's Living Trust instructions, his father, Milton, secured the funds.

Fast-forward to six years later when Jeff finally turned 25, I noticed in my appointment book that Jeff had made an appointment to see me. In reviewing his grandfather's trust, I was reminded about the gift provision to him. Therefore, I assumed that Jeff wanted to meet with me for advice on the transfer of that gift to him. As I met Jeff in my waiting room, I said, "Happy Birthday! What's the first thing you are going to do with your gift?

He responded, "Sue my father!"

In my office, Jeff explained what he had meant by such a shocking statement. Upon turning 25, he approached his father for the money. When he did, his father said, "Hey, son, since my money is family money, your money is family money. You've been receiving your distribution all along in the form of food, clothing, and shelter."

Mr. Condon wanted his grandson to have that bequest to help him get a leg up in life: to start that family, buy that home, establish that business. What his grandson got instead was a lesson in the school of hard knocks. When it comes to money, family loyalty goes out the window.

Thanks to: Jeff Condon, Trust Law Adviser, Wiley and Sons, 2008

Joseph E. Deering

632 Arizona Avenue
Santa Monica, California 90401
Telephone (310) 393-0701

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