Pay Dirt

I’m Not Sure I Can Trust My Hateful Sibling to Manage My Money

There is no one else.

Man staring at a laptop with his head in his hands.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Getty Images Plus and Spoon Graphics.

Pay Dirt is Slate’s money advice column. Have a question? Send it to Lillian, Athena, and Elizabeth here(It’s anonymous!)

Dear Pay Dirt,

I get social security due to my disabilities. And I have a special needs trust. I get help managing my money from my parents. But when they die (I know they will not live forever) it will be a sibling.

I don’t like this sibling. There is no other family, we have asked. My financial people that help with the trust money say a hired person won’t do as good a job as my sibling and I’ll end up paying a lot for services that will be not as good as what my sibling can do. Can you trust somebody with your money who is not a good person in their soul/morally but who is very good with money? (They are very ethical with money. Just not with hurtful words.) I know to have this problem means I am very, very lucky compared to most people on disability. But I also don’t know what to do.

—Very Lucky, Very Stressed

Dear Very Lucky, Very Stressed,

No one wants someone who is mean to them to be in charge of their money. Maybe you can meet with your parents and your sibling now to make rules about how your sibling talks to you. If they are willing to help with your trust, they might also be willing to follow your rules about respect and not saying hurtful things. Talk to your parents while they are still alive about getting your sibling to understand how your sibling’s words hurt you.

The good news is that your sibling must be ethical with your money. There are special laws about how someone in charge of a special needs trust (a trustee) has to act. They have to make decisions in your best interest, which is called fiduciary responsibility. If your sibling isn’t willing to be kind to you, you could hire a professional to do that job. A professional trustee will also have to follow the same fiduciary rules, but they will charge you money. But if they respect you more than your sibling, their fee might be worth avoiding having an unkind person controlling your cash.


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