Saturday, May 2, 2015
When parents get older, sometimes the vultures win
Posted by Lynne Butler
Here is the question: "Is it possible to liquidate part of an estate before death if both beneficiaries agree to it?"
My answer is simple: No, of course it's not possible. Not legally, anyway.
How could it be possible if the person who owns it is still alive? Nobody is a beneficiary while the person is still alive. The "beneficiaries" have no legal right to anything.
The will that apparently names these two as beneficiaries says that they get something when the owner of it dies. Since the owner hasn't died, the will isn't in effect yet and they're not beneficiaries yet. Call me judgmental, but it upsets me to see people trying to get their inheritance before the owner has even passed away.
The question is usually posed innocuously as a mere request for legal information. However, the thought process behind the question should be examined more closely. It's usually along the lines of "I'm going to own it one day anyway, so I'll just take it now." Why are the kids so often able to rationalize jumping the gun this way? Is it really reasonable that a person might have the right to take someone else's property or money just because that person is old? It bothers me that instead of thinking of ways to protect the parent who is elderly or sick or frail, the family members are thinking about material gain.
If one of the "beneficiaries" has Power of Attorney for this person and thinks that gives them the right to liquidate assets for the beneficiaries, they are wrong. A POA may legally sell property owned by the older person but it must be keep invested in that person's name while that person is alive. The "beneficiaries" simply can't have it. Period.
The unfortunate part about the fact that two people appear to be complicit in the idea of stealing some property from someone, probably a parent, is that they may get away with it. When there's nobody out there who cares more about the parent than the assets, sometimes the vultures win.