Dear Elaine,

I have some beautiful jewelry pieces that have been in
my family for a number of years. I want to make sure my granddaughter has them when I die, but her mother is very selfish and has always had her eye on them. What should I do to make sure my granddaughter does end up with these items? By the way, I gave her a necklace a couple of years ago and her mother took it and still has it. When I asked her mother why she was wearing it, she said the necklace looks better on her. Do you know what steps I should take to make sure my granddaughter gets these jewelry pieces? I was told I have less than six months to live and want to do the right thing.

                                                                     Mrs. C                                          

Dear Mrs. C,
What a joy it must bring you to have such treasures that can be passed down through generations! You are in a very difficult situation and I am in a difficult one as well, since you provided very limited information on your predicament. Based on the information you provided, I am going to make the assumption that your granddaughter is still a minor living with her mother. I will also assume that you have your will and other areas of your end-of-life planning complete.

In your will, you can identify your granddaughter as
the person who is to receive these jewelry pieces upon your death, but you won't be able to keep her mother from taking the jewelry from her. So, I would suggest that the best way to handle this situation is to create a trust. A trust is a separate legal entity through which property is held for someone's benefit and protection.

Your granddaughter should be named the beneficiary and you will want to appoint someone, other than her mother, as the trustee of this trust. This person should be someone you know will carry out your wishes and will not be influenced by your daughter or her mother. This person must also be able to understand and fulfill their role as the trustee and safeguard the jewelry for the benefit of your granddaughter. Be sure to include a detailed description along with photographs of the individual pieces. With this trust you can set forth the requirements that must be met for your granddaughter to receive her gifts. You should determine at what age your granddaughter will be given the jewelry. You may also want to consider including a requirement that the jewelry will not be released to your granddaughter while she is living with her mother. You will want to think very carefully about the requirements and restrictions that will control this trust.

The only downside to this solution is that your granddaughter will not be able to enjoy the gift until she has met the eligibility requirements you define in the trust.


Send your questions to Elaine, the Genesee Senior Housing Specialist, through your local senior Center.

Elaine Simpson, the Genesee Senior Housing Specialist, welcomes your questions as they relate to phasing down, housing options and lifestyle transitions. Elaine has over 22 years experience working with seniors and addressing their housing needs. Using this knowledge, she founded two great companies that are geared toward the needs of our mature population: Senior Options and Services, LLC, to provide lifestyle transition services for seniors and their families, as well as Buckingham Real Estate, LLC, Michigan's only real estate company exclusively for seniors and their families

Although the Senior Center provides information and referral for senior services, we do not personally endorse any private company; merely inform consumers of programs and in-home services available to enhance the lives of seniors outside of the Center. As a consumer, you are encouraged to independently research and ask for references. The Center does reserve the right to review provider information and accept or refuse to post.

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