Thursday, December 3, 2009

Don't Use a Verbal Agreement as an Estate Planning Tool

The question below demonstrates that you should not use verbal agreements as an asset management tool. If you have life insurance and minor children, there are ways to put the proceeds in trust. However, putting it in the name of a relative and asking them to do the right thing is dangerous.

Can I win? Rockmart, GA

My dad left his life insurance to my aunt because me and my sister were minors and him and my mom were going through a divorce. He had a verbal agreement with my aunt that we would recieve the money. SHe had given my sisters their share but she wont give me my share.. My whole family knows about the agreement and the situation. If I take her to court and sue her for the money and the documents can I win?


Your father should have provided for the division in the life insurance beneficiary section. If your aunt wants to deny the agreement, she can do so and win unless you have evidence to the contrary. You didn't state what documents you have to support your claim. Also, you didn't state how long ago your father died? There may be statute of limitation issue and evidence problems. In any event, you should find a local probate attorney in your county.

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