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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 22, 2006 / 28 Menachem-Av, 5766

A financial ‘prisoner’ to her children

By Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: I am 72 and was widowed two years ago after 50 years of marriage. My daughter stays home with her two children, and her husband is an accountant. My son lives in Missouri and visits infrequently. My husband left me with nearly $2 million in assets, including our condominium, which is worth nearly $1 million. I have about $4,000 in monthly income.


My son-in-law has been telling me since my husband died that I am a "target" for someone who wants to marry a wealthy widow. While I have not thought much about getting married again, I have been getting some calls. So when he told me that I could put all of my assets into a "living trust" to protect myself and my assets, I didn't think it was a bad idea.


Since my husband and I moved from Florida from New Jersey and didn't have a lawyer here, my son-in-law recommended a lawyer who he said could help me. So I met with this seemingly nice man who explained how a living trust worked. I remember asking him what would happen if I did not like the way things were working out, and he told me I could take everything out of the trust so long as I was alive. At my death, he explained, my assets would be divided equally between my children the way I wanted. The lawyer suggested that my son-in-law be the trustee because, being an accountant, he understood what needed to be done, could prepare my tax returns for me, and that I need not worry about it.


So I signed the papers including transfers of my condominium, stock accounts and bank accounts into the trust, not really reading them carefully. Even my checking account was put in the trust.


Now, six months later, my life is a living hell. I have to ask my son-in-law for everything I want, and I have lost control over my assets. For example, I wanted to take a cruise, and my son-in-law told me I couldn't afford it. He complains when my electricity bill gets too high and tells me to turn down the thermostat. I was thinking of selling my condominium and getting a smaller place, but my son-in-law won't let me do it, saying I would have to pay too much in taxes.


I got so sick of it all that I went to another lawyer and found out that I can't change the trust or terminate it unless my son-in-law and both children agree. I called my son, all upset, and he sent me a letter agreeing. My daughter and son-in-law won't. I have now found out that the lawyer who did my work also represents my daughter and son-in-law. Here I am, at 72, a prisoner to my greedy son-in-law and daughter, who tell me they are doing this for me. Do I have any options? — Reader, from Florida


A: Unfortunately, you are not alone in your dilemma. We guess that when your accountant son-in-law read the AARP survey detailing how many children would not get an inheritance, he wanted to make sure he did.


If you did not sign a "revocable living trust," then you potentially have a problem. "Revocable" means that you, as the person who transfers your assets into the trust and designates who will receive them when you die, will have control during your lifetime so that you can change, revoke or terminate the trust any time you desire without asking anyone. It appears that your son-in-law's lawyer had you transfer your assets into a trust that may well be "irrevocable" — meaning that you must get the consent of both of your children and your son-in-law before you can revoke it.


If irrevocable is as we believe it is, there are several difficult issues you must deal with: 1) You are limited to a $1 million lifetime gift exemption and, if your trust is irrevocable, you may have already made a $2 million dollar gift, meaning that you are obligated to not only file a gift tax return, but also may be required to pay gift taxes; 2) Since you may have made a gift to an irrevocable trust, should you need long-term care and your son-in-law does not want to pay for it and you apply for Medicaid within the next five years, you will be penalized for a long time; 3) Since you have apparently lost control of your assets, you will be stuck with the "allowance" your son-in-law gives you.


What to do? We believe that since the lawyer who established this trust for you also represents your son-in-law, he may have had a conflict of interest that should be explained to someone. Since this is not what you intended, you should seek out an experienced attorney who has no ties to anyone but you and see if he/she can put enough pressure on to get this resolved without a long legal battle.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JAN L. WARNER received his A.B. and J.D. degrees from the University of South Carolina and earned a Master of Legal Letters (L.L.M.) in Taxation from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a frequent lecturer at legal education and public information programs throughout the United States. His articles have been published in national and state legal publications. Jan Collins began co-authoring Flying SoloŽ in 1989. She has more than 27 years of experience as a journalist, writer, and editor. To comment or ask a question, please click here.

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