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Old February 15th, 2011, 12:34 PM
lamorela lamorela is offline
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How to talk to family about privacy

I am 24 and have graduated from school with a Masters and am preparing my own tax returns for the first time when my father emails me telling me my grandmother keeps a account in my name that she may or may not decide to give to me later in life. Until which point I need to pay taxes on the earnings.

I am very uncomfortable with this. Especially since I am in the accounting industry and know that this is not exactly kosher as far as preparing tax returns go. I do not see any legal reason why she, or anyone for that matter, would need an account in my name.

So background: My fathers side of the family has always been very closed and uncomfortable expecially about money. It is often justified on that side of the family to do things because someone has bought you something (A nice Christmas/birthday gift ect.). Which has always seemed strange to me as I would expect a gift would be because of an existing relationship not expected future services or improvements in the relationship.

I don't want to burn bridges or make my relationship with that side of the family awkward, but I really don't feel comfortable with her having an account in my name. One that I'm assuming my father signed in for my conset when I was still a minor. (Which would also explain why he would never let me do my own tax returns until now.)

I am very upset that they seem to think this is normal/acceptable?!

I have no interest in the money, she can keep it, it is hers. But how do I handle this and talk to them without insulting them and making the relationship uncomfortable!? (Especially frustering since they have made this so uncomfortable for me!)

Please help! Am I over reacting? Is it really that big of a deal?

I just feel lied to and violated. It's weird to think that they have things going on in my name that I have no knowledge of!
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Old February 15th, 2011, 01:17 PM
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KayKay KayKay is offline
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Re: How to talk to family about privacy

Are you sure the account is under your taxpayer id#? If it is, you have every right to call the bank and inquire about it. If it's not, you don't owe taxes on it.

As far as legal reasons, do you know what form the account is in? Is it a trust?

If no one in your family will tell you any information, call the IRS and request copies of prior years' returns.

I have accounts in my kids' names (UGTMA) and SSN's. My kids know they exist (I have told them that in case something happens to mom and dad, they are to use that money for college) but they have no idea how much money is in there. It is legally theirs and they can legally access it when they turn 18, but my goal is that they get their educations and establish themselves in their careers, using this as a nest egg for their future. My kids are actually pretty sane when it comes to spending, so I know I could trust them, but I know plenty of people whose kids blew threw their "nest egg" by their 20th birthday. My guess is that your GM established this account long before she figured out you were going to be responsible with money.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 01:20 PM
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LucyVanPelt LucyVanPelt is offline
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Re: How to talk to family about privacy

I think this is a big issue if you'll be paying taxes on interest for an account in your name but which you've known about. At this point in time, I'd suggest you talk to a tax attorney and proceed from there. Following the law should not damage a relationship. The attitude of "Maybe I'll give it to you, maybe I won't, but you pay on it anyway" is what damages the relationship.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 03:17 PM
lamorela lamorela is offline
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Re: How to talk to family about privacy

KayKay the account is under my tax payer ID and was set up by my father a grandmother when I was still a minor, with my fathers consent to stand in for my own.

I see where your coming from but, as I'm 24 now I think we've long since passed the point when they should have told me if they were keeping this money in my name for me. Or at least told me about it and said we are saving this for you to "buy a home/buy a car/pay for your wedding".

Lucy I agree, I feel very hurt by the maybe you get it maybe you dont attitude. Either give it to me and be happy about it or just keep it. It's not going to make or break me.

Any suggestions on talking to them about doing this essentially behind my back without stepping on toes?
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Old February 15th, 2011, 03:51 PM
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Re: How to talk to family about privacy

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Originally Posted by lamorela View Post
Any suggestions on talking to them about doing this essentially behind my back without stepping on toes?
Well, IMO the "behind your back" isn't really "behind your back" if they did it while you were a minor (I'm thinking pre-teen; don't know the actual age). I realize at age 24 you are adult enough to know this information, but I will propose that they may not have felt that you were ready for this information. It sounds like your GM hasn't really "let go" of the idea of it being "her" money anyway.

Sorry - I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer. I'm trying to explain the possible things that your GM and father are thinking. Obviously, since I don't know them it's likely I'm wrong.

I think the "maybe you get it, maybe you don't" is hurtful, absolutely, but would examine the intentions before getting hurt about not being informed. Does that make sense? What I mean is -- I think you ought to reserve judgment until you find out why they did it behind your back.

If it's in your SSN, then there *is* no "maybe" to you getting it, unless your GM empties the account first. It's logical that it was put in your SSN for tax purposes (you, as a student, may have been in a lower tax bracket than your GM) and it's possible that your GM is worried that she won't have enough money to live off of for the rest of her life. Or, it could be your GM's way of trying to control you.

So, um, suggestions about how to talk about it... Those are hard not knowing your family, especially since you said that your father's side is closed and uncomfortable, especially about money. If it were me, I'd ask questions about the account, leaving out hurt feelings for now. Ask questions like "What was the purpose of opening the account?" "What kinds of transactions are going on in the account?" and "How long has it been open?" I'd try to find out what GM's intentions were, and how they have played out. I'd discuss tax planning around this account (i.e. - is the money to pay the tax on the income going to come out of the account?)

And I would definitely definitely definitely NOT let anyone hold the account over my head to make me "dance" to their tune.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 05:51 PM
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Re: How to talk to family about privacy

Quote:
Well, IMO the "behind your back" isn't really "behind your back" if they did it while you were a minor (I'm thinking pre-teen; don't know the actual age). I realize at age 24 you are adult enough to know this information, but I will propose that they may not have felt that you were ready for this information. It sounds like your GM hasn't really "let go" of the idea of it being "her" money anyway.
I agree with this. I have custodial accounts for all of my children. They do not have access to them until they are 21. They do know about the accounts, though, and these are the children's accounts, not mine and there is very minimal money in there. If there had been a lot of money, we would have set the money up in trust and perhaps set the age to receive the money at 30!

I would be factual about the account. It exists, you know it exists, and before you accept legal and financial responsibility for the money, you should also have possession of it.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 12:10 AM
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Re: How to talk to family about privacy

Hi Lamorela, at 24 years old AND being in the industry it is up to you to decide what to do about this. If what they have done is illegal, then approach your father & grandmother from this perspective, as they may have no idea.

You could start with "I've checked, and we need to sort this out. This is what i would like to see happen, this is what is wrong, what do you think would be acceptable? - Whatever we do, it MUST be 100% legal from now on."

Make sure you have the previous returns etc as KayKay suggests - forewarned is forearmed etc.

It would be great to hear back how you get on with this.
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Old November 24th, 2011, 01:25 AM
SteveDavis SteveDavis is offline
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Re: How to talk to family about privacy

It means that you do not have built trust and confidence.Just try to create this first later you will have no need to ask from any one.
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