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  1. #1

    Elderly grandmother seeking my advice

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Tx

    Hello I hope this is the correct forum.
    My grandmother (85) is living with my mom. She can't live alone anymore but is very independent. Can't drive but she can still do most day to day things.

    Recently grandma has started making comments that she is worried about money. She is not on any state assistance because she has enough money and has assets such as properties. My mom has told her she should sell these properties and live off the money. One property, if it sells could sell at $300k. It's a large lake front property and many offers are made. However, grandma doesn't want to sell because she wanted to keep the property in the family to be passed down throughout the generations. Her hopes were that all of her children and grandchildren would share it. (not possible) but it's her hope. The property is used by a relative that refuses to share with anyone. Grandma requests to go to her house and spend a weekend and this relative has changed the locks and won't let anyone in, even grandma. This relative has removed all of grandma's belongings and has basically moved in. I asked grandma if she remembers signing the house over to this relative and she said 'no' she only gave them a key and told them they could use it whenever because it's for 'the family'. Grandma still pays the taxes every year. She was paying a yard company to maintain the yard but they said they are no longer able to gain access to the yard as there is a lock on the gate. I checked the county website and grandma is still listed as the property owner and it shows she has paid the taxes for the previous year, no balance due. The electricity has been changed into the relatives name and the water, although still in grandma's name, is being paid each month along with the garbage. It's like this person just took over and moved right on in. Grandma has asked them to leave and they refuse. They see her as fragile and that she will not do anything to them and won't be able to get them out any way. She sent a letter and the response was that they have done so much work on the property, she would owe them the money for the repairs but grandma did not authorize any work to the property.

    So my question, how in the world does grandma get her property back? She doesn't want to live there but she now is wanting to sell the property to live off the money she makes from it. She had recently sold her other properties and this is the only one left which is worth the most amount of money. She did offer the relative to purchase is but they state she verbally gave it to them when she gave them the keys. She gave all of us keys because we were to be sharing it. But then they changed the locks.

    She is seeing a lawyer next week but wondering what to expect.

    Thanks!!What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?

    Last edited by TxPE2011; 07-20-2011 at 10:03 PM.
  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    There are times when I really do wish that the legal niceties could be ignored and that some frontier justice could be meted out.

    But... I would expect that the attorney will start off with a letter notifying the relatives that their permission to use the property is rescinded and that they have X number of days to clear out. Assuming that they thumb their noses at that, it will get ugly.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Formally evicting them in court is a good idea.

  4. #4
    Thanks for your responses.

    A little more has evolved since the other day when I posted.
    Grandma remembered that about 5 years ago, this specific relative talked to her about putting the property into a living trust so that her home and property could not be taken if anything were to happen such as needing gov't assistance or in her death, any debts that would require the sale of the property to pay the debts. That kind of put her into a nervous frenzy because she couldn't remember getting a copy and couldn't remember the name of the attorney she talked with. Then she couldn't remember if she even signed the paperwork but knows she did not pay for the legal services. We drove her around town and she remembered!! Where the lawyers office was. Contacted lawyer and they DID have a copy of this living trust and stated that relative paid for it and yes she did sign it. She doesn't have a copy because all copies were mailed to relative and in a letter lawyer states that grandma and ALL relatives in the will were to receive a copy, yet not a single one received such a copy. Good news is the trust is revocable. It can be changed, voided whatever you call it. Grandma has an appointment this week with an attorney to have this done.

    During our research we found on the county website that same relative is the owner of 'step' grandmothers property. Stepgrandma has Been in a nursing home for 10 years and was deemed incompetent many years ago. The deed date is 2006- 5 years ago, same year grandma had her trust done. It states on the county website 'living estate of 'step' grandma. Because we don't have contact with step grandma (not for bad reasons just because she asked us to not see her and refuses visitors) we don't know if this was her real intentions. The property is only appraised at $20k so I'm inclined to say the family is not going to fight for it BUT the house was to stay in tact until 'step' grandma dies according to grandpa's wishes. There are things in the house that 'maybe' someone in the family would want. I know my mom has mentioned that she does not want the pictures from my grandpa but she would like to make copies. Who knows if that will happen. A 'respectful' relative would say, 'no problem' unfortunately we are dealing with a money hungry property hoarder.

    Is there any way to just have this estate investigated? Find out of step grandma knew what she signed? And that she is being taken care of. Relative is the POA and has given away things like .. Relatives son is driving step grandmas car. Not a new car by any means as she has not driven in 10 years so the car is old. Her house is being lived in by someone that is not family. Maybe the money is helping pay step grandmas expenses. I don't know. Is there a way to find out or since she is POA, doesn't matter what we know?
    Let me make it clear, we don't care about the property of stepgrandma. We don't want money or anything like that. We would just like to make sure this relative is not scamming all the elderly in our family... And that their rights are protected and not those of this relative.

    Thanks again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    ...this specific relative talked to her about putting the property into a living trust so that her home and property could not be taken if anything were to happen such as needing gov't assistance or in her death, any debts that would require the sale of the property to pay the debts.
    You realize that this is BS, right? Since the trust is revocable, any assets in the trust would be considered in determining Medicaid eligibility and would be available to pay any debts after she passes away.

    The question is: was the trust funded with assets? I suggest that you don't rely upon the county website. Take a trip to where the county keeps land records and look for the latest deed.

    As far as Stepgrandma... It would take a lot of work. You don't really say what you mean by "deemed incompetent" or how many is "many years ago." Who deemed her incompetent and when? If there was a proceeding to establish a guardianship/conservatorship, then you should be able to view the records at the courthouse. And, if you take that trip to find the deed to grandma's property, might as well request a copy of the deed to stepgrandma's property, also. You could at least see who signed what.

  6. #6
    Thank you so much for responding. Your questions really have us thinking which is what we wanted by posting.

    As far as grandma's 'trust' -- I think this relative made grandma believe they were the all knowing and that they were looking out for her best interests. However, by making this person the only one named on the trust tells me, they were only looking out for themselves and trying to gain ownership of this property by 'fooling' grandma into believing they would 'share' with the family after her death. Since grandma started feeling better and showed interest in going to her home for the weekend, they flat out refused to allow her to go there. Telling her 'we are having friends over and there won't be anywhere for you to sleep and its too hot for you to go down there'. She told me this morning she is so glad she is still alive to see their behavior now instead of everyone being hurt after she is gone. Her true wish was to allow all her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and on and on to share this property. Realistically, property can not be shared. Not with the family we have. Someone has to be in control and make sure taxes are paid, land is cared for etc. So finally she has come to the conclusion to sell and live comfortably for however long she has. So far my grandma had been lucky to not need more than she has and she has always been healthy until the parkinsons. She really has no symptoms yet. But she very well could become very ill and need assistance and she would either need the money to pay or help. We did find out the only debt she has is a loan on the house. Apparently some repairs needed to be made and this relative (instead of asking everyone to chip in) went to grandma before she moved in with my parents and took her down to the bank and grandma took out a $30k loan in her name.. But this relative has apparently been paying the loan. Grandma checked today and the loan is current and no late payments. The statements are mailed to the relative as are the tax statements on the property. I told grandma she will probably become responsible for that once she kicks the relative out and with the sale of the land, she will just have to pay the entire amount off.. She understands that. I don't know HOW she was scammed into doing all of this but she says that she wanted the repairs to be made and didn't want to burden anyone. So as far as that goes, next week we will know more about what will take place with the trust and the will and getting these people off the property. Getting it ready to sell might prove to be a big pain in the a$$. I told grandma it would be great if relative could buy the house plus add on the loan amount to pay off the loan -- they get the property and house plus their repairs and everyone should be happy. Grandma says they already tried to get a loan and cannot. Hmmm.... Interesting.

    As far as stepgrandma. This is where you have me thinking. My grandma and stepgrandma are friends lol I know.. So weird. But they are. Grandma is the one that told me she was deemed incompetent. She has MS and can't move really. She has been in nursing home for 10 yrs. We have no idea why she is still alive and I'm not being ugly. The doctors don't know either. She went down hill 10 yrs ago and they thought she only had a few days ... Like I said it's been 10 yrs. No one can visit. If we go up there they say no visitors allowed. She called us before she went to the nursing home and said good bye to everyone and told us not to visit. I should mention, I only refer to her as stepgrandma because I don't want to be too confusing on this post. She has never been a step anything to us. She married my grandfather before any grandkids were born and they were married for 30 years until he died. She didn't want anyone to see her in the condition that she would be in. From what I've been told, she can't really move and has no use of her hands. I do not believe a hearing ever took place, the relative was just the one that kind of went in and took over and promised her the world and so she made them POA even over her own biological child. Her child became so disgusted by it she just walked away and no one ever heard from her again.

    So if I go down to where the land records are, I can gain access to this information on the property? Are living trusts public record or is that private? How would we go about finding a copy of it? Would we be able to do that on our own or is that something an attorney would have to do? I do know my stepgrandma is on medicaid because the relative told us she went through all of her money in the first year of the nursing home. So we are told. We were also told by this relative that stepgrandma changed her will before getting sick and took her child out of it and two of my grandfathers children out of it, one being my mom, only listing this relative in the will. My mom did not worry about that although it was hurtful, she was not worried about the 'money' because she knew her father really had nothing. She said she was even surprised he had a will because he just didn't have anything.

    So that's more info. I hope it's not too confusing to follow. I apologize for any grammar errors or misspellings, I'm on my phone lol I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    You seem to be on the right track. Just be prepared for surprises and for things to get ugly.

    A couple things:

    1) As I mentioned before, a revocable living trust really does not provide any sort of asset protection - because it is revocable. Assets placed in the trust can be removed from the trust.

    2) A trust document can be written but it does not mean a whole lot unless assets are re-titled in the name of the trust. In a normal living trust, the person creating the trust (the trustor) is the trustee until they become incapacitated or pass away, at which point a successor trustee named in the document takes over. To be a part of the trust, assets would have to be re-titled. For example: "Grandma, as trustee of The Grandma Living Trust."

    3) Trusts are intended to be private documents. That is one of the "selling" points of a living trust. When the trustor passes away, property that is part of the trust does not have to go through the probate process, which is a public affair. The legal system does not become involved in the administration of a trust unless one of the interested parties brings some matter before a court.

    I am surprised that the attorney that wrote the trust did not retain a copy. But, if not, there really is no place to go to find a copy other than those who may have been given copies.

  8. #8
    The attorney that did grandma's trust and will did have a copy and provided it to grandma yesterday. And he remembered some details like grandma not wanting to pay for the services and wasn't sure if she wanted to do it yet. So the relative paid and grandma signed. What that document says from what we understand is that when she passes away the property goes straight to this relative and does not have to go through probate and can not be contested. I guess the relative thought that they could occupy the home since at any time it would be theirs free and clear. Grandma is changing that because she wants to sell it now.

    Stepgrandma's is the one we don't have. Since we don't have access to her we can't ask her and I'm sure she would not understand the question any way. Stepgrandma's issue is a lost cause. I just hope she is being cared for and not taken advantage of. Nothing really anyone can do now. I was just curious if that was something we could find.

    I'm learning more by reading the forums. I really have no idea about this stuff. I'm just starting to get my stuff situated and getting information for my own will. It's not something I've worried about before until I had kids and now we are starting to build our lives. It's all so very complicated! Thanks for your help!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Sorry, guess I misinterpreted who had a copy of what.

    Out of curiosity, does the trust document state that grandma is the trustee?

    I mentioned the part about re-titling assets to the trust because I believe you said that the county website showed the owner as grandma, in her own right rather than as trustee of her trust. That is also why I suggested obtaining a copy of the deed itself. It would be rather odd that the relative went to the trouble of "persuading" grandma to create the trust and paying to do so, and, then, overlooking the re-titling of the property to the trust.

  10. #10
    I do not have a copy on me but one is the guarantor and the other the guarantee. The only two people mentioned is grandma and relative. Grandma says she thought she listed her three kids equal not just one kid.

  11. #11


    I wanted to post a follow up on what has happened since I did take the advice I was given to help my grandma.

    That woman amazes me. She interviewed 7 attorneys. She has hired one who is revoking the living trust. Paperwork was drawn up on Friday. She also reviewed her will and has left her three children with an equal split 3 ways; where before she had one getting more than another and one getting 'things'. It was so confusing and ridiculous actually. So now it's just 100% equal division of her estate. I think this will save fighting in the end.

    The house is going to be sold to the highest bidder. If relative wants to buy it, yay for them.. if not, then someone else will be the very proud 'legal' owner. Eviction papers are being filed on Monday as well...

    As far as stepgrandma ... We just decided to leave that alone. She doesn't have anything and is suffering any way financially. Investigating it further might cause her problems that she won't even be able to deal with herself. She left this relative as the only POA and didn't want the other family involved so we all agreed to just leave it at that.

    So proud of my grandma for standing up for herself. Thanks for the help and advice. I've learned a LOT about trusts and wills reading the forums. These things can get so tricky and confusing with all the verbiage.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2011
    New England
    Good for your grandma! I'll bet she really benefited from feeling empowered, as well.

    And good for you for helping her.

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