Obligation to withold inheritence from convict?


The only Christians involved in the following situation are my husband and I, and we are Catholic. We probably need to seek professional advice from a probate lawyer, again, but wanted to post on this forum for like-minded advice/moral obligation inquiry.

My grandmother-in-law passed away a few months ago leaving my husband as the successor trustee of the family trust. One of the heirs we’ve tracked down is his long-lost cousin who no one in the family has heard from in years, since he “stole” from their grandparents. By “stole” I mean borrowed thousands of dollars of money from them with the promise to pay back but did not. My grandparents-in-law (both now deceased) did not forgive him for not paying back the money, and verbally expressed to multiple family members they did not want him to receive an inheritance, yet did not take him off the Living Trust.

After finally tracking him down (have not yet made contact), we found he has an arrest record, pleading guilty to criminal trespassing and burglary. I called the jail to learn he’s not in jail any more and they don’t know where he is.

Withholding payment from him does not benefit us monetarily because my husband and I are not heirs. We wonder if we have a moral obligation to not give him his inheritance, to disperse it between others in the trust, because in giving him the money it would feed his addictions/bad choices/lifestyle.

Without any legal advice, I’d say your obligation is to execute the trust as written. And you should do so with the same vigor as if he was Saint Theresa.

You should go over this with your lawyer, and not make any decisions now.

You are correct that you should discuss this with an experienced probate attorney. Is there any evidence of these unpaid loans, or just hearsay?



He has a legal and moral obligation to execute the terms of the trust, whether he likes them or not. If he doesn’t feel he can do that, then he can resign as a trustee. He has a fiduciary responsibility to disburse assets in the trust per the trust, not how people wish it to be, not based on what grandma said, but based solely on what the trust actually requires.

If you do not believe the cousin can handle the money, then you could pursue something with the court such as a representative payee situation-- if he is actually legally incompetent. If he’s competent, but just making bad choices, then you need to let the chips fall where they may.

Ike: +1!!

If the loans that the beneficiary still owes can be proven, then the forgiveness of that indebtedness can be counted as part of this beneficiary’s share of the trust assets.

Except as to the loans, your husband have no business doing anything but what the Trust charges him to do. If he cannot follow the orders, he should resign.

My Grandfather used his will to make a statement to all his kids. My poor Dad was his executioner.

It caused a huge family rift when some the siblings pressured my Dad to ignore the written will and be more “fair”.


You mean executor, right?

I am an attorney and the above quote is spot on perfect advice. Execute the Trust as written. I’m sorry you don’t like this cousin but that’s too bad.

Oops. Sorry yes that was supposed to be executor. :o

Many times offspring and other heirs come across as greedy and money grubbing at the time of dispersal of estates via wills.
In reality what is overlooked is the fact that many people use estates, inheritances (through wills) and positions (power of attorney, executor, ETC) as poker chips or bargaining devices while the person is alive, in order to get the offspring and heirs to act a certain way. Many times they dangle the carrot in front of people in order to direct their actions.
This is the truly despicable action in these situations, and is often overlooked. It is pathetic behavior and it shines a light on the true nature of the person who is doing the manipulating

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