Does Grandma's Family Trust go to my Dad's new wife in the event of his death, rather than me?

1 answer | Last updated: Oct 15, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

First off I live in California. My Grandmother has Alzheimers and my Dad has power of attorney. She has some money in a a "Smith Family Trust" that currently states that if something happens to her, it goes to my Dad, if something happens to my Dad it goes to me and if something were to happen to myself and my Dad it would go to my children. My question is if my Dad re-marries and then something happens to him, would the money in the family trust then go to the wife or still to me?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Sorry to be wishy-washy, but the answer depends on the exact wording of the trust and possibly, any other estate planning documents that may be involved, such as wills or other trusts that might come into play.

Some trusts are phrased to pass the property outright to another person, who then gets the property outright when the trustmaker dies. That property then goes to that person's beneficiaries when he or she dies"”your father's new spouse in the situation you describe.

But more complicated trusts are specifically set up to keep trust property within the ownership of family members for as long as possible"”leapfrogging those not contemplated to be in the family when the trust was created. While there is not detail here to tell, the trust document you describe may be just such a beast.

If you have access to the trust document and if a lawyer helped in drafting it, I'd encourage you to take a copy of it to him or hero get a specific opinion on the very question you pose here. Most would agree to do so free of charge or for a very limited fee.