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Can Mom use funds from Dad’s church to pay personal bills?

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Can Mom use funds from Dad’s church to pay personal bills?

My father passed 6 years ago and the church he ran went dormant. My sister has convinced my mother to now take the money, approximately $56,000, that was in the church checking account, close the account, and pay off personal bills. Is this legal? It sounds like she is trying to pay off her house before she passes so she can give the house to my sister.

I have no idea what the motive might be behind this scheme, but I can assure you that using money from the church for personal purposes is not appropriate.  The state Attorney General or the local prosecutor would have an interest in this transaction if it were to happen as you describe. 

I don’t know if your father’s church was a separate legal entity or not, but if it was a separate entity, there may be articles of incorporation or bylaws that prescribe what should happen with the left over funds if the church is not going to be revived.  Whether or not it was not a separate legal entity, most state laws would provide that the money was impressed with a charitable trust and should be distributed to another church or charity to be used for similar religious or charitable purposes. Get some advice from a lawyer in your area who understands this type of question so you and your family don’t wind up with serious legal problems.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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