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Know Your Rights: A will only affects property distributed after death

By By Richard Alderman
May 26, 2012 at 12:26 a.m.


My father is 82 and would like to give me his truck. My sister says if he gives me his truck, she must be given equal value in cash. My father's will states that all his property will be divided equally between his two children. My question is, what is my sister entitled to?

Right now, your sister is not entitled to anything. A will is effective only upon death and deals only with property in the estate at the time of death. Prior to his death, your father may distribute his property in whatever manner he wants. He has no legal obligation to distribute his property in accordance with the terms of his will. If he wants to favor one child over another, he has a legal right to do so. This is true even though it means there will be less property to distribute after his death.

And by the way, if he gives you the truck, you will still be entitled to your full share of his other property when the estate is distributed.

I owe a lot of money. I own very little and have no savings. I live on my Social Security check, which is directly deposited in my bank account. If I am sued, can my creditors take any money from my Social Security payments?

Under federal law, Social Security benefits may not be garnished. This also means that a creditor may not garnish a bank account that contains nothing but your Social Security income. If you are sued, I suggest you let the creditor know that the only income you have is Social Security.

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