My parents want to leave their house to the church


Q. My parents are in their 70s and I’m their only child. They say they want to leave their house to their church, and it’s really their only asset. It doesn’t seem right. What can I do?
— Only child

A. We understand that you’re concerned about your parents’ decisions – and your inheritance – but it’s not up to you.

Your parents are free to dispose of their assets at death in any manner that they choose as long as they are legally competent and not under duress or being coerced at the time that they execute their wills, said Steven Holt, an attorney and chair of the taxation, trusts and estates department at Mandelbaum Salsburg in Roseland.

“There is no legal obligation on their part to bequeath assets to their children, no matter what are the financial or other circumstances of their children,” Holt said.

But, if you are concerned that either or both of your parents are the subject of financial exploitation or coercion that manifests itself in their preparing a will in favor of the entity exploiting or coercing them, you have another option, Holt said.

You can consider pursuing a protective arrangement with a court pursuant to N.J.S.A. 3B:21-1 or explore filing a guardianship application, he said.

“You may also wish to have them undergo a competency examination contemporaneously with the making of the will,” he said.

Email your questions to moc.p1579519510leHye1579519510noMJN1579519510@ksA1579519510.

This story was originally published on Sept. 10, 2910. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.