Would you seek out this trust fund? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 08:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was sexually abused and r*ped extensively by my rather for a good many years growing up. He is currently in prison for 50+ for hurting my niece in the same way for a couple years. My brother has mentioned several times that there is a trust fund for me that was started when my sons were very young. Our father told him this himself and even told my brother that he wanted him to be the executor (or whatever) but he thought my brother wasn't ready for a responsibility like that at the time. (It was shortly after that when he was arrested for hurting my niece.) I also have a couple recollections of him mentioning something about it to me, although nothing as explicit as he said to my brother. Supposedly this fund is large enough that I wouldn't ever lack for (of?) anything.

I've made great strides in the past six months or so in moving on from the abuse and not letting it control my life as much as it had for a couple years. I don't want asking him and his attorney about a trust fund to create problems for me. I know it would be emotional to go through the process and to get the money if it really exists. But we could really use that money. DH and I want so much to move into the Portland (OR) metro area that we're so close to but can't cover moving costs. We'd also love to have a baby if we can and things would be so much easier with even a little more money each month. I'd also love to be able to see my sons every year (they've lived away from me most of their lives).

I know it would stir things up to ask about the money and receive it but that could well be worth it. I absolutely would not take it if there was any stipulation about being in contact with my father. Also, any letter that I send about it would be strictly a business letter. He would know that straight away. My thought is to send him one and also one to his attorney.

Any thoughts/advice/wisdom? Anything I'm not thinking of? I don't know any details about the supposed trust fund, just that it seems to exist. But then, he's a true sociopath and we honestly have no idea if he was lying, or possibly created the fund to pay an attorney if I ever pressed charges or something like that. Tell me what you think. Thanks!

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#2 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 08:20 AM
 
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Personally I would forget it. I don't think it's worth it and I wouldn't want his $$$.

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#3 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 08:41 AM
 
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I don't think I would pursue it either.

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#4 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 08:50 AM
 
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Is there any way to find out if it still exists without letting your father know? I'm be very hesitant to proceed, TBH. With his incarceration, he was probably also fined a large sum of money. The money may not even be there anymore.

When you say that the fund is large enough that you would never lack for anything, that leads me to believe that it's millions of dollars at least. A couple hundred thousand isn't much these days, so I'm assuming you're not talking those sums. So, with that in mind, the money you could receive from the interest would be several thousand a month (you can earn roughly $3K/month per million in investments, as a general rule, depending on your interest rates).

You're certainly of age to access the trust (based on the age of your boys in the siggy), but do you know if your father has to be deceased before the trust goes to you? (That's how our dd's revocable trust is set up.) Also, as he probably set it up as a revocable trust and is still living, are you sure he still wants you to have the money? TBH, I don't know if I could do it, personally. I don't think I could ever get over that severe abuse enough to accept money from my abuser. That's just *me*, though. I wish you the best of luck in this, as it is REALLY a hard decision to make.
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#5 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 10:08 AM
 
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I'd tend to prefer an attorney did the legwork for me -- it can help protect you emotionally as well as legally.

Sounds as though affordability might be an issue for you, though, so maybe you could get some preliminary info from state bar association or legal aid. See if your situation is the kind that could be handled on a contingency basis or something?

Above all, take care of your own emotional well-being first.

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#6 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 10:39 AM
 
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I don't think the trust exists.

The biggest thing you know about your dad is that he is a sociopath who abused you. And your niece. For years. He is a bad, bad guy, he hurt you a lot, and he also hurt other people.

Given the circumstances described, it sounds like possibly your dad mentioned it to your brother during the time frame in which he was abusing your brother's daughter - which makes me think it may have been a thinly veiled attempt to shame your brother into silence (by telling him he's "not responsible enough") and hint that if he kept silent about the abuse he or his daughter would get money.

If you want to look into this, these are the avenues I would pursue:
- Your dad's bank statements (if you or your brother have access to those).
- Your dad's tax returns, or bills or letters of engagement from his tax preparer.
- I might look into hiring an attorney or a P.I. to do an asset search on your dad, and look for any trusts he may have created or may be involved in. This should be a few hours work for a trained investigator.

I wouldn't contact your dad - probably ever at all.

I'm so sorry for what you've been through.
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#7 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 01:47 PM
 
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Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Is there any way to find out if it still exists without letting your father know? I'm be very hesitant to proceed, TBH. With his incarceration, he was probably also fined a large sum of money. The money may not even be there anymore.

When you say that the fund is large enough that you would never lack for anything, that leads me to believe that it's millions of dollars at least. A couple hundred thousand isn't much these days, so I'm assuming you're not talking those sums. So, with that in mind, the money you could receive from the interest would be several thousand a month (you can earn roughly $3K/month per million in investments, as a general rule, depending on your interest rates).

You're certainly of age to access the trust (based on the age of your boys in the siggy), but do you know if your father has to be deceased before the trust goes to you? (That's how our dd's revocable trust is set up.) Also, as he probably set it up as a revocable trust and is still living, are you sure he still wants you to have the money? TBH, I don't know if I could do it, personally. I don't think I could ever get over that severe abuse enough to accept money from my abuser. That's just *me*, though. I wish you the best of luck in this, as it is REALLY a hard decision to make.
This was a great reply.
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#8 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 03:13 PM
 
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Meepycat has some good suggestions. I'd probably do something like that, but avoid contact with the abuser, and let a third party do the searching.
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#9 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And this is why I knew I should ask you all, because you'd have sound advice! Thank you so much! Yeah, I feel (my therapist also feels) that he owes me a lot of money, but I don't really want it at whatever cost it might come, and the least of the cost is a bunch of upheaval that I absolutely do not need. I know I'd be thinking about it every time I used any of the money and that would create so much trouble.

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Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Is there any way to find out if it still exists without letting your father know? I'm be very hesitant to proceed, TBH. With his incarceration, he was probably also fined a large sum of money. The money may not even be there anymore.

When you say that the fund is large enough that you would never lack for anything, that leads me to believe that it's millions of dollars at least. A couple hundred thousand isn't much these days, so I'm assuming you're not talking those sums. So, with that in mind, the money you could receive from the interest would be several thousand a month (you can earn roughly $3K/month per million in investments, as a general rule, depending on your interest rates).

You're certainly of age to access the trust (based on the age of your boys in the siggy), but do you know if your father has to be deceased before the trust goes to you? (That's how our dd's revocable trust is set up.) Also, as he probably set it up as a revocable trust and is still living, are you sure he still wants you to have the money? TBH, I don't know if I could do it, personally. I don't think I could ever get over that severe abuse enough to accept money from my abuser. That's just *me*, though. I wish you the best of luck in this, as it is REALLY a hard decision to make.
I have no idea how I'd find out if the money really exists. He's worth a LOT of money (in the tens of millions) but he has some agreement going on with his ex-wife so that she got all of his assets. He's brilliant with all this stuff so I know it could be impossible to find the fund even if it exists. When you put it in reference to how much just the interest could be every month, wow, that blows my mind. The biggest income I've ever had is what DH and I have now and it's a third of that. Makes it really tempting but don't want to deal with the price it would come at.

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Originally Posted by MariaMadly View Post
I'd tend to prefer an attorney did the legwork for me -- it can help protect you emotionally as well as legally.

Sounds as though affordability might be an issue for you, though, so maybe you could get some preliminary info from state bar association or legal aid. See if your situation is the kind that could be handled on a contingency basis or something?

Above all, take care of your own emotional well-being first.
If, somehow, I end up deciding to pursue the money at some point, I'll definitely look into how an attorney could help. I've been wondering about that all along, would it be better to not personally interact with my father at all. Thanks for the legal aid idea.

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Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post
I don't think the trust exists.

The biggest thing you know about your dad is that he is a sociopath who abused you. And your niece. For years. He is a bad, bad guy, he hurt you a lot, and he also hurt other people.

Given the circumstances described, it sounds like possibly your dad mentioned it to your brother during the time frame in which he was abusing your brother's daughter - which makes me think it may have been a thinly veiled attempt to shame your brother into silence (by telling him he's "not responsible enough") and hint that if he kept silent about the abuse he or his daughter would get money.

If you want to look into this, these are the avenues I would pursue:
- Your dad's bank statements (if you or your brother have access to those).
- Your dad's tax returns, or bills or letters of engagement from his tax preparer.
- I might look into hiring an attorney or a P.I. to do an asset search on your dad, and look for any trusts he may have created or may be involved in. This should be a few hours work for a trained investigator.

I wouldn't contact your dad - probably ever at all.

I'm so sorry for what you've been through.
Exactly! He's so full of it anyway and is a dictionary definition of pathological liar and sociopath, I really have to wonder if the money exists and if so, what it has really been set aside for. Thanks for your advice about looking into it, too.

Thanks so much for helping me think through this better. A few months ago, I was all ready to send a letter but something kept telling me to just take my time with it, at least to get the letter right. Money is very appealing to most any of us but I'd rather live on just over $1000 a month than have any amount in those circumstances. Thank you!

If anyone else has something to add, please do.

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#10 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 06:27 PM
 
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I am pretty sure a trust has to be filed with the court system. The ones I know of in my family have been and I worked for an atty and she filed them all. If so, do you know the county in which he would have filed it? If so, a lot of places have public records on file and you can look them up online. Our county and the surrounding ones do. Maybe something to look into. It may or may not tell you the amount but would tell you if it exists.

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#11 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am pretty sure a trust has to be filed with the court system. The ones I know of in my family have been and I worked for an atty and she filed them all. If so, do you know the county in which he would have filed it? If so, a lot of places have public records on file and you can look them up online. Our county and the surrounding ones do. Maybe something to look into. It may or may not tell you the amount but would tell you if it exists.
Good information, thanks! I know where it's probably filed so at least that would be a starting point if I decided to pursue it.

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#12 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 07:21 PM
 
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Dumb question, but I am curious: Why do you and your therapist feel he owes you a lot of money? Because of the abuse or ???

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#13 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 07:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dumb question, but I am curious: Why do you and your therapist feel he owes you a lot of money? Because of the abuse or ???
No question is dumb. Yes, it's because of the abuse. Maybe I shouldn't have that sense of entitlement, that he owes me. It would be nice if he was paying for it in some way. Technically, he isn't paying for it in prison because he's there for hurting my niece. There's been a huge amount of chaos and loss in my life that is directly related to his abuse, so I do feel he owes me. But it's also not something that consumes me anymore.

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#14 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 07:48 PM
 
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i am an abuse survivor. i would take the money.

Bring back the old MDC
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#15 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 07:56 PM
 
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I see. thanks for clarifying.

My kids have a trust fund that was set up when their dad died but it's not actually a legal trust. It's been in several accounts but it's not an actual trust per say. Just something to be aware of. It sounds like this trust (if it exists) is way more than what I am dealing with though so YMMV.

I think I'd probably just wait until he dies if it were me but I am also not you so you have to follow your heart on this one.

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#16 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 09:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i am an abuse survivor. i would take the money.
Interesting to hear from you! For you, would taking the money create a lot of chaos? There's no way for me to know for sure, of course, but I really worry about the intense emotions that having this money could cause. Part of me really says, "You know what? He seriously hurt me. He knew what he was doing, he even covered his butt in different ways over the years. I deserve that money!" And then there's the part of me that wants to leave him in the dust completely, even if there's a ton of money somewhere.

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I see. thanks for clarifying.

My kids have a trust fund that was set up when their dad died but it's not actually a legal trust. It's been in several accounts but it's not an actual trust per say. Just something to be aware of. It sounds like this trust (if it exists) is way more than what I am dealing with though so YMMV.

I think I'd probably just wait until he dies if it were me but I am also not you so you have to follow your heart on this one.
Waiting until he dies is definitely an option. He's 62 and wasn't in the best health before his arrest and who knows what incarceration has done to him. At least that would solve any problems with having to deal with him in any way.

Yikes. I wish I'd never heard anything about the money!

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#17 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 10:02 PM
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Another thing to maybe think about if you do decide to go after the money and are able to claim it. What about donating a good chunk of it to charities helping victims of rape and sexual abuse? While he's not paying with jail time for what he did for you, the money he earned/lost can pay for both your therapy as well as that of others.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.
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#18 of 37 Old 05-21-2010, 11:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Another thing to maybe think about if you do decide to go after the money and are able to claim it. What about donating a good chunk of it to charities helping victims of rape and sexual abuse? While he's not paying with jail time for what he did for you, the money he earned/lost can pay for both your therapy as well as that of others.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.
I would so totally do this! That was something I thought about right away when my brother mentioned the money in 2008.

Oh, and thanks so much for the hugs and support, dear MDC friends!

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#19 of 37 Old 05-22-2010, 02:13 AM
 
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I don't know about the technicalities of finding the money, though I do think an attorney would be a good place to start.

I'm also not an abuse survivor, but I wanted to say maybe you could look at it both as something he owed you, and as a way that he did something fatherly for you. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole "forgiveness" issue, I think some things are unforgivable, but life is messy and he was your father. So maybe this could be the one thing he did as a father that was right? Hopefully that makes sense and isn't offensive. Good luck!

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#20 of 37 Old 05-22-2010, 05:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know about the technicalities of finding the money, though I do think an attorney would be a good place to start.

I'm also not an abuse survivor, but I wanted to say maybe you could look at it both as something he owed you, and as a way that he did something fatherly for you. I'm not sure how I feel about the whole "forgiveness" issue, I think some things are unforgivable, but life is messy and he was your father. So maybe this could be the one thing he did as a father that was right? Hopefully that makes sense and isn't offensive. Good luck!
Oohh, another great thought! It isn't offensive at all. There is a lot of sense there. Looking at it this way isn't impossible at all. If the money is really there, at least he did put it aside, knowing what he'd done in the past. Still not sure about the forgiveness issue. I think that is a ways coming still.

Wow, this is really going to be a tough decision. I'm going to have to pray about it and talk to my therapist and DH and his parents, too. But I'm so glad I asked about it here! The decision isn't any easier really, but you've given me some great thoughts and opinions on it. Which is exactly what I wanted.

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#21 of 37 Old 05-22-2010, 08:24 AM
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you know, i think every parent 'owes' their child a safe, healthy childhood.

your father didn't give you that, so yeah, he OWES you. i don't know if any amount of money would pay the debt, or jail time, or whatever else. i don't know what can pay the restitution for what happened to you. but, if this money--assuming it exists--can be part of that for you, then i see no reason not to see it that way. no more thoughts on this, so i set that aside.

beyond that, for me, there are other layers to consider.

first, i think it is easy enough to look for and receive any money without having contact (unless the darn thing stipulates contact, in which cause i would not go near the money). so, at the least, that level of chaos won't be there. you have been given great advice on how to do that.

i think the next layer that i would then have to look at is whether or not receiving the money would mess me up. KWIM? would it feel like "tainted" or "dirty" mney to me? would it make it harder for me to spend it?

the next part i would look at is whether or not this money would be good for me. it could be that having it will move me toward that sense of restitution, and also provide the opportunity for me to live the way that i want to, which facilitates healing and personal integration. it could be that the origin of the money can be dissociated, and that i can just see it as "my money" and use it that way!

i think that you do have a lot to consider, and i think that you will make the best decision for yourself.
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#22 of 37 Old 05-22-2010, 09:59 AM
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Ditto to what zoebird said.

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#23 of 37 Old 05-22-2010, 05:02 PM
 
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I think any trust he set up with you as a beneficiary would be a revocable trust with you only having any right to the money after he dies. And of course, he could change the terms at any time during his life and give you nothing. If you haven't been contacted by an attorney or by him telling you that there is a trust with you as beneficiary and you are entitled to income and/or principal of this trust, I would assume it does not exist or does not confer a present interest. Even people with tens of millions of dollars keep it for themselves until they don't need it any longer, and only then give it to their children (as a general, but almost universal, rule). If he had put $10 million in an irrevocable trust for your benefit, for example, he would have had to pay a substantial amount of gift tax on that (roughly $4 million in taxes, after his $1 million lifetime gift tax exemption).

If you really want to know, you could hire a lawyer to communicate with his lawyer for you and then he could relay any information he wanted to share. But honestly, I would wait until he's dead, because I think it's extremely unlikely there's any trust out there in which you are a present beneficiary entitled to either income or principal.

I'm also a survivor and I would also take the money, but it doesn't sound likely to me that there is any money to be had at the moment. I also would not put it past someone like that to just completely lie/misconstrue the facts in order to manipulate you, your brother, your niece, and so on.
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#24 of 37 Old 05-22-2010, 11:02 PM
 
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You got some great advice here with so many things to think about. At first I thought you should take the money but I don't know if I would be able to spend it and not feel tainted. The charity suggestion was awesome.
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#25 of 37 Old 05-23-2010, 03:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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you know, i think every parent 'owes' their child a safe, healthy childhood.

your father didn't give you that, so yeah, he OWES you. i don't know if any amount of money would pay the debt, or jail time, or whatever else. i don't know what can pay the restitution for what happened to you. but, if this money--assuming it exists--can be part of that for you, then i see no reason not to see it that way. no more thoughts on this, so i set that aside.

beyond that, for me, there are other layers to consider.

first, i think it is easy enough to look for and receive any money without having contact (unless the darn thing stipulates contact, in which cause i would not go near the money). so, at the least, that level of chaos won't be there. you have been given great advice on how to do that.

i think the next layer that i would then have to look at is whether or not receiving the money would mess me up. KWIM? would it feel like "tainted" or "dirty" mney to me? would it make it harder for me to spend it?

the next part i would look at is whether or not this money would be good for me. it could be that having it will move me toward that sense of restitution, and also provide the opportunity for me to live the way that i want to, which facilitates healing and personal integration. it could be that the origin of the money can be dissociated, and that i can just see it as "my money" and use it that way!

i think that you do have a lot to consider, and i think that you will make the best decision for yourself.
Deciding if the money is tainted to me is the really hard part. Right now this very minute, I'm feeling rather uneasy about taking any money from him. But sometimes I feel very indignant and that "darn right I'll take that money!" I think there would always be a little hesitation but I know I need to work it all through in my head and heart to reach my final decision. And just because I start the process wouldn't mean I'd need to take the money if it was really available. But it would be a great healing opportunity and and also could really make my life more comfortable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Romana View Post
I think any trust he set up with you as a beneficiary would be a revocable trust with you only having any right to the money after he dies. And of course, he could change the terms at any time during his life and give you nothing. If you haven't been contacted by an attorney or by him telling you that there is a trust with you as beneficiary and you are entitled to income and/or principal of this trust, I would assume it does not exist or does not confer a present interest. Even people with tens of millions of dollars keep it for themselves until they don't need it any longer, and only then give it to their children (as a general, but almost universal, rule). If he had put $10 million in an irrevocable trust for your benefit, for example, he would have had to pay a substantial amount of gift tax on that (roughly $4 million in taxes, after his $1 million lifetime gift tax exemption).

If you really want to know, you could hire a lawyer to communicate with his lawyer for you and then he could relay any information he wanted to share. But honestly, I would wait until he's dead, because I think it's extremely unlikely there's any trust out there in which you are a present beneficiary entitled to either income or principal.

I'm also a survivor and I would also take the money, but it doesn't sound likely to me that there is any money to be had at the moment. I also would not put it past someone like that to just completely lie/misconstrue the facts in order to manipulate you, your brother, your niece, and so on.
Your last paragraph is right on. He may have lied about it all along, that is sooo possible. And he's brilliant in that way. Too smart for his own good. He really has no need for the money now, since he'll spend the rest of his life in prison. But unless something in him has changed since last summer, he may well think he'll get out somehow eventually.

I'm so grateful for the responses, you've all given me a lot of insight and some really good things to think about. You've also helped me figure out how to go about it if I do decide to at least see if the money exists. It certainly isn't cut-and-dried.

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#26 of 37 Old 05-23-2010, 04:19 AM
 
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As an abuse survivor, I would also take the money.

I also recently received a settlement in a lawsuit involving an assault. The lawsuit, for me, was never about the money, and when I received the money, I DID feel it was "tainted". I have set it up someplace safe while I figure out how I feel about it. So far its only be accessed for emergencies, to cover things I needed but could not otherwise afford. For me, knowing the money is there and spending it only when I absolutely need to feels ok, mostly I ignore its existence at all. I'm expecting my feelings may change over time.

As far as the existence of the trust, I would imagine there's a good possibility it does exist. My parents have a irrevocable life insurance trust set up for me and my siblings. They've never really explained it to me. When I turned 18, I had to sign some sort of form once a year. When they got divorced I heard NOTHING about the trust for a good 8 years- no forms, nothing. I asked my father and the way he explained it, I assumed that the trust was gone. However, just this year, it has resurfaced. I have no idea what happened during those years. I think, depending on the type of trust, you may not hear anything at all about it.
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#27 of 37 Old 05-23-2010, 06:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's so nice to get your take on it, Oubliette8, thank you! I'm not surprised that I haven't heard anything official about the possible trust because that's just how my father operates. If he wants you to know about something he makes sure you do, if he doesn't want you to know he has ways of making it happen that way. Time will tell. I'm going to discuss it with my therapist tomorrow and try to figure out what I need to do mentally to prepare myself for at least looking in to the possibility of there being money. Previously, I had thought about writing to my father to ask him about it but I'm definitely not doing that now. At least it feels way less intense knowing I don't have to deal with him personally.

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#28 of 37 Old 05-23-2010, 10:57 PM
 
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I'm really impressed with your approach to all this. You sound really -- healthy about the whole thing. And I'm so sorry for what you have suffered at his hands up until now....

My first thought was, take the money. Who cares where it came from? But I've never been in a position like that, and can totally understand why you wouldn't want it. I also get not wanting anything that can carry negative energy into your life or even to have to think about him any more than you normally do, just in the process of dealing with the legalities, etc.

Then I thought, he made your entire life so much harder than it should be, b/c recovering from abuse like that can be a lifelong struggle. So why not take the money and at least be able to make some part of your life just a little easier? Heck, even if it's just enough to pay for the therapy you need as a result of the abuse, it helps even things out (financially speaking). If it's enough that you can stay home with your family and never have to work again, can move to wherever you want and have the life you want, even better. And of course anything in between is icing on the cake, too. So why NOT take the opportunity to help yourself make things a little easier? If anyone deserves an "easier" life it's you and those who have suffered similarly.
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#29 of 37 Old 05-23-2010, 11:10 PM
 
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I'm a survivor and I would totally take the money. Perhaps, just perhaps, he has the money set aside thinking that you taking it some how "forgives" him for what he did. So freaking what? It's money, that you can use. As long as it's not something that ties you to him, what do you care what it means to him? Concentrate on what it would mean to you. Perhaps all of this is still "fresh wound" for you. It's been a long time of processing for me. But honestly, as long as it doesn't make you feel victimized again, take the money. I would see it no different than winning the lottery. (Money appearing out of no where kind of thought, not that this is "free" money for you.) Worse comes to worse, consider it therapy reimbursement.

The reality of the situation, for me, is taking the money would not obligate me to have any contact with my abuser. It wouldn't make me feel obligated to forgive him - in any way I haven't already - and it wouldn't make me feel guilty like I owed him something. All good reasons, again for me, to take the money.

But I would certainly use a lawyer. I wouldn't be interested in contact with mine. He doesn't actually get to be 80 and all of a sudden get some sort of contact that makes him feel better about what he did. To me taking the money and being in contact with him are two entirely different things.
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#30 of 37 Old 05-24-2010, 01:22 AM
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i think that when the indignant feeling about the money transitions to one of dignity about the money, then you will be able to use it freely without attachment or rememberance of it's origins.

i think that, at this point, it might be ok to have a lawyer or PI have a peek for it, and then decide if you want to pursue it or let it go for now, and you can always pick it up later too--if you do decide you want it. KWIM?
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