History of this case: Mother and son purchase property as their home. It is held as joint in its entireties,
right of survivorship. Mother uses her inheritance for the downpayment, son continues to work in job making the deal
Five years later, mother brings handicapped son into the house (three bedrooms) to take care of him. At the time,
she signs over her assets into a living trust, including the title to the property. The trust give the older son the
rights of power of attorney, first successor trustee, and the property. Other parts of the trust have mostly an annuity
to take care of the handicapped son administered by the older son.
Seven years later, the mother develops dementia, and soon can no longer take care of handicapped son. The handicapped
son has a medical scare in the hospital and goes into a nursing home. Eventually, the mother can no longer stay
home, so the daughter, who has little stake in the trust, takes over with her husband and three sons. Both siblings
discover how badly the trust was set up, so the mother revokes part of the trust.
Pennsylvania law follows the usually procedure for a living trust. A living trust is a repository for various assets
and the settlor (the mother) can put assets in and take assets out. Pennsylvania law dictates that the instrument of
the trust controls how the settlor administers the trust.
The mother signs the revocation of the trust following this clause in the trust:
"At any time during the life of the Settlor, the Settlor may, by a duly executed intrument filed with the Trustee:
1. Amend this Trust agreement in any manner; and/or
2. Revoked this Trust Agreement in part or in whole. If the Trust Agreement is revoked in whole, the Trustee
shall transfer title to all Trust property of every kind and description back into the individual name of the Settlor."
Soon the daughter decides, after emptying the trust of funds to take care of the mother, to place the mother in assistant
living. Because the property is believed jointly held, she persuades the older son to buy the property, else Medicaid
will not pay for the assisted living.
Before the transaction occurs, the mother dies of a stroke. The older son then assumes that he inherit the property,
in which he still has the insurance and mortgage, along with all the utilities in his name. The mother had build on
the house for the handicapped son as well. Therefore, it appears that the decedent wanted the older son to care for
the handicapped son.
So, four months later, the daughter informs the older son that he must buy the property from the estate! Then the
lawyer, who replaced the original two lawyers of the trust who had quit months earlier, sends the older son a document to
transfer the property to the daughter. It turns out that the daughter had the demented mother sign over the entire estate
to her! To add chutzpah to the injury, the estate lawyer insists that the mother had revoked the entire trust,
even though the instrument itself demands that she should take all the property out of the trust for whole revocation,
which the mother agreed when she signed the revocation!
Now the daughter, as executrix, insists that she has nothing to do with the estate, a lie just building upon previous
lies, including a ruse that she had intended to put the original will into the estate. The older son kept
all email correspondence over the year and found evidence that the mother assumed -- along with the older son -- that
the older son still had joint ownership in the property where he continued to live after the mother left to
live with the daughter.
So now the estate lawyer threatens to take the older son to court to eject him from the property, of which he solely
has paid the mortgage, and added to the equity, over the past seven years. The older son took over all expenses of maintenance
after the mother left some sixteen months before her death. The lawyer argues that the mother wanted the daughter to
inherit a property over which she has NO stake over the older son who has maintained the property over the past fifteen years
and has used it as his primary residence. In addition, the lawyer argues that the mother has disinherited the two sons,
which is not mentioned in the bogus will, and now wants the older son to hand over the property to the daughter, in addition
to selling it to a stranger, after the mother had just added onto the house for the handicapped son.
This'd be funny if it weren't true!