Terms and Conditions

The general information contained in this blog is not legal advice or an offer to provide legal representation. You should not rely on the information in this blog. Instead, if you need legal advice, you must retain a lawyer. Although I strive to keep the posts up to date, the information contained in this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments.

Any tax matters discussed in this blog cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code.

10 thoughts on “Terms and Conditions

  1. My father passed a few years ago, and my mother is still in good health at 78.
    I have 1 brother, and 1 half sister. I’m the one that lives near, and have always taken care of all their needs. They decided to leave the house to me, years ago – Mom had a will drawn up stating this. Problem is, the will excludes the other siblings and makes me the executor, to accomplish that. I won’t lie – I want the house to remodel and live in. There is still $32,000 owed on an equity line of credit, that comes with the house. I fully intend to turn any or all possesions and a handfull of savings bonds, over to my brother & sis, to be as fair as I can, but the exclusion might not go over too well. I’ve started reading about probate, and it sounds like it could be messy, and take a long time. I’ve been told I should try to get mom to put everything in a trust, to avoid probate. Does this sound like a good idea? I don’t know anything about this stuff. What’s your opinion?

    • Mike,

      Your mother is free to give the house to anyone she wants. Whether your siblings agree with your mother’s decision is a political issue, not a legal issue. (This assumes your mother was not under undue influence from you when she signed her will.) The politics will not go away if you use a revocable trust. A trust may be a good idea for avoiding probate-related legal fees, but it does nothing to soften the feelings of your siblings. One approach is for your mother to tell them during her life that the house will go to you. Your siblings cannot then contend that you twisted your mother’s arm to force that result. Your mom will not like the stress of having that discussion, but it will make your life easier in the years to come.


  2. I am a US citizen who has been living in Germany for 31 years. My husband and I are separating and I am moving to Portland in February. All my assets are in German bank accounts, and I was planning to leave them there until needed. Is it better for me to transfer most of my money to US accounts before the end of the year? I have only just heard about FATCA and don’t know how it will affect me. Does it mean that I just have to report these accounts, or do I now have to pay extra tax on money in foreign accounts? We have been filing our US taxes jointly every year, but starting next year I will be filing separately and I am not sure what will be best for me.

    • Linda,

      Welcome back to the US!

      There is no US tax savings if you move your accounts from Germany to the US, but there is a substantial CPA fee savings. If you have “offshore” accounts, you must file Forms FinCEN 114 and 8938 each year, which are a time-consuming hassle. There is no tax due with these forms, but there are substantial penalties if you fail to file them. You probably already know this, but all of the income earned on your German accounts must be reported on your US tax returns, since the US taxes its citizens on their worldwide income.


  3. My mother in law passed a year ago ..she left a will to divide all money between siblings …before she died the one brother (who claims to be executor and she did mention she was trusting him to it ) talked her into adding his name to the bank accounts. After she passed he closed one account and sent out checks …we thought it seems really low …he just closed out the other account …we know how much was in it and know he kept a lot more of it then he should have. I am pretty sure he has never filed probate papers or anything with any court. He also allowed non heirs to go threw her personal items and take stuff before he let the heirs …What can we do about this ?

    • Ask your brother to provide a very short accounting of post-death transactions. If he used the funds to pay funeral expenses and distributed the rest in equal shares, he has acted honorably. If he refuses, then you may need to hire a lawyer to find out what happened.

  4. Funeral was all prepaid and he refuses to show proof of anything. What kind of a lawyer would handle this ? Maybe an estate attorney ?

    • Yes, an estate attorney would be the logical choice. Have you told your brother than you will retain a lawyer unless he provides transparency?

  5. Hello, my Parents passed not long ago, and through a deposition taken during a wrongful death case dealing with my Father, I found out that my sister( executor) manipulated my parents into – not- including $600,000 u.s. into the will. She kept the money hidden till I found out. I would like my share of what she (stole). please E.mail me if you can or would help me.. Please and thank you for your valuable time.. Jonathan A.

    • Jonathan,

      I think you need an attorney who does estate litigation full time. There are several questions that will determine your remedies, including: (1) was your dad’s estate probated in court, (2) who was the executor, (3) does your sister still have the funds, (4) does the will allocate the funds in equal shares to the children, (5) was the money held in a joint account with right of survivorship?


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