My sister needs to distribute $50Okay to every grandchild from our mother’s financial savings — however a few of us siblings haven’t got children

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Dear Quentin,

I trust my sister, but I think that sometimes she is driven by feelings rather than practicality. I’m one of four and the sister who lives closest to my mother takes care of the finances. Mom is 93, in good health and currently in assisted living.

That’s the big picture. My mom’s checking account has been piling up due to the regularly replenished income that has not been spent. She also has other savings, about a million dollars.

My sister would like to distribute the excess current account money – not in equal parts to me and my siblings, but to my mother’s grandchildren, who give each grandchild the same amount. That’s $ 50,000 for each of the grandchildren.

My mother is not involved in this decision as she has given this sister and my brother the authority to sign the account. We don’t want to include her there, although my sister tried to push her a little for the grandchildren.

“Mom and Dad always wanted their estate to treat all of their children equally, and grandchildren distribution would not achieve that.”

Mom and Dad always wanted their estate to treat all of their children equally, and grandchildren distribution would not achieve that. I have no children, just stepchildren, and they would not be part of that distribution.

My brother, who also signs checks, claims that the money should go to the four siblings, who can give the money to their children if they wish. That is my position too. The remaining siblings abstain from the discussion.

My sister disagrees and believes that our mother loves her grandchildren and wants the money to go to them. My mother is still considered legally competent, although this is practically controversial.

My sister managing money is doing pretty well other than this episode, and I want to stay on good terms with all of my siblings. How do we go about and define this for future money distributions?

Unhappy siblings

You can email The Moneyist at qfottrell@marketwatch.com with any financial and ethical issues related to the coronavirus and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Dear unfortunate one,

It is a nifty sleight of hand when a co-signer can approve withdrawals of $ 50,000 to their other siblings’ children, rather than worrying about your mother’s day-to-day finances. I understand that estate planning is most important to your four siblings, but putting pressure on your mother to agree is beyond the purview of that role.

Fortunately, your brother is also a co-signer, and if both need to approve withdrawals, there is some protection. If your mother wants to distribute her wealth evenly among her beneficiaries – grandchildren are not considered beneficiaries when their parents are alive – their wishes should be respected. At best, it’s tough practice. At worst, it’s opportunistic.

So what now? Some co-signers may need the account holder’s permission to make withdrawals, while others may not. Check with your mother and brother about the rules for this arrangement. Discuss the general conditions of this regulation in a family talk and talk to your mother – and, if necessary, the bank – about these limits and how nobody should be put under pressure.

There are other potential potholes down the road. If your siblings are also co-owners of this bank account, the money in this account will automatically become their property when your mother dies. In addition, the money in this account could be used to pay off debts your siblings have been involved in litigation and / or divorced.

Your sister’s role as a co-signer is to manage your mother’s finances; ensure that bills are paid on time, including rental or mortgage payments and other insurance policies that the Account Holder may have; and most importantly, take care of the account holder’s well-being – don’t figure out how to trade and give money to your own children.

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More from Quentin Fottrell:

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• My mother had my grandfather sign a deed that left two grandchildren millions of dollars and avoided everyone else
• My brother’s soon-to-be ex-wife embezzles money from her business. How do we find hidden accounts?
• “Grandmother died recently and left a seven-figure estate. Needless to say things are getting messy ‘

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