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    Can I keep what my uncle left me in his will?

    Date: 08.16.07 | by Judge Tom.


    A lot depends on the nature of the gift or bequest, your age, and your level of maturity. For example, if you′re nine years old when Uncle Austin leaves you his car,  it may sit in the garage for a few years. If you or anyone else isn′t harmed or put in danger by the item left to you, then you may have it. Your parents will decide what′s best in most situations. 

    It’s not uncommon for older people to tell you in advance what you’ll receive upon their passing.  They always have the right to change their mind without telling you, so don’t be surprised if years later when they pass on, who gets what has changed.  The law allows for wills to be challenged in court in what is called a will contest.  It is not easy, however, to have a will set aside.  You must prove that the testator wasn’t of sound mind when the will was written or that he or she was coerced or tricked into making the will.

    Photo by Wolfiewolf (Flickr)

    Oftentimes, when a minor is the recipient of money or property from a will, it is put into a trust fund until he or she reaches a certain age. Usually the age designated by the person writing the will [testator] is 18, 21 or older.  A trust can be designed any number of ways and keep you from receiving the funds for many years. Sometimes testators put conditions on receiving the money such as upon completion of college or military service. As long as the provisions of the will do not violate public policy or cause harm to anyone, courts try to uphold the deceased’s wishes.

    In the movie “Little Big League”, a young boy is left his grandfather′s major league baseball team. Anything is possible!

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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    1 Comment subscribe to these comments.

    • cindy mae ford
      Thu, 12 Nov 2009 at 03:04

      Hi, my name is cindy i’m trying to find out if my uncle left me in his will and i need help to find this information .
      Judge Tom’s response:
      Check with other family members or any friends of your uncle to see if they know or have a copy of the will. You could also contact the lawyer who prepared it or with the court where it might be filed. If there are other beneficiaries, you could also ask them if they know. Good luck.