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After looking/thinking today, I think my MIL's difficulty in "giving" it to my wife is that she no longer has legal control as you implied.

It's a little different situation but I've been told my son is the one who has control of the custodial issue after reaching the age of majority. He's the one who lets me off the hook as custodian(if only I can get him to the brokerage) on both his taxable and his Roth accounts. Your MIL may not have the control she thinks she has.
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