Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

My husband's brother specified in his Trust that my husband gets ALL his tools. Brother unfortunately passed away 5 months ago from cancer and his wife (our sister-in-law) was left with several annuities, savings accounts, life insurance (all totaling a high 6 figure amount) but she is reluctant to give my husband the tools his brother promised him, she says she is even considering selling some of the tools. My husband and his brother were extremely close and we have always had a good relationship with sister-in-law and don't understand why the change in her attitude (other than she is very angry that he passed) Does a Trust become non-revocable upon death or can surviving spouse change it? Does my husband have any recourse?

Asked on 2/19/20, 7:03 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Palley Meissner, Joseph, Palley & Ruggles, Inc.

It really depends on what the trust says. A VERY standard will or trust says EVERYTHING to my spouse and if both of us are dead then my tools go to my brother, etc.... So it wouldn't surprise me if she gets everything at the first death. Obviously I haven't seen the documents so am merely guessing. In any event she has control of the tools so then the question is if it's worth suing her to try to get the tools. Probably not as you may or may not win (depending on what trust says), you may spend a lot of money, you will likely sever any relationship with her. I would probably the super nice approach and hope she comes around and gives some tools to your husband.

As to the trust becoming irrevocable at the first death they sometimes do. They for sure become irrevocable at the second death but not necessarily at the first death. Again, it depends on what the trust provides.

Good luck.

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Answered on 2/19/20, 7:32 pm

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