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    Death of a parent and how to deal with terrible finances?

    My dad just died yesterday, somewhat unexpectedly (to us anyway)... turns out he's been lying for the last 3 years, and only decided to mention to any of us about a month ago that he's dying of cancer. Lying is in his wheelhouse, that's not a surprise. But for the last three years, he has been systematically destroying my mom's credit, all the while knowing he was dying. He kept her in the dark about that of course and wouldn't allow her to be involved in their financial affairs. He's a textbook sociopath. I think a situation of him wanting her to be miserable without him. He died with great credit and she currently cannot even open a phone in her own name. She has no retirement, zero savings, no assets, and a boatload of debt. She is 65 years old. I think there is hope now that he is gone (she is 65, but has always brought home most of their income), though I will have to contribute heavily to right her situation. I have no idea how to get the utilities, insurance, etc switched out of his name and into hers when her credit is so bad... will it just be a matter of paying a big deposit or something to get things in her name? Anyone gone through something similar or have any advice? Thanks!

    #2
    My condolences to your loss, and to compound it with this new burden. I can't say I've gone through anything like that. If you haven't done already, have you talked a lawyer? As for utilities being switched over and insurance policies, possible co-signing/joint accounts?
    "I'd buy that for a dollar!"

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      #3
      sorry for your loss....can you talk to the credit agency and see how to make her credit better...maybe leave stuff in his name until she clears the debt and gets better credit...did he have life insurance? sorry I'm not sure what else to suggest...did she have to sign things to get her into debt or did he forge her signature? sorry so many questions

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        #4
        I don't think it is legal to leave utilities and accou ts in a deceased person's name? I don't know for sure though, I will need to look into it.

        I suppose I could do joint or cosigned accou ts, though I would prefer not to. I would probably rather pay a deposit if possible than mingle finances.

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          #5
          Sorry for your loss, and the mess he left behind.

          How exactly did he mess up her credit without affecting his own? If he was doing things with accounts solely in her name and without her permission, she may have some legal recourse there because he may have been guilty of identity theft. For example, if he opened credit accounts in her name without her knowledge, she should file a police report. She may be able to get that sort of thing cleared up.

          As for transferring accounts, my dad died 28 years ago and I think his name might still be on some things. She can probably take her time changing things.

          Do you have good credit? If so, would you consider adding her as an authorized user on one of your credit cards? That could help rebuild her credit. You don't even need to actually give her a credit card. Just putting her on the account will help her.
          Steve

          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

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            #6
            Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
            Sorry for your loss, and the mess he left behind.

            How exactly did he mess up her credit without affecting his own? If he was doing things with accounts solely in her name and without her permission, she may have some legal recourse there because he may have been guilty of identity theft. For example, if he opened credit accounts in her name without her knowledge, she should file a police report. She may be able to get that sort of thing cleared up.

            As for transferring accounts, my dad died 28 years ago and I think his name might still be on some things. She can probably take her time changing things.

            Do you have good credit? If so, would you consider adding her as an authorized user on one of your credit cards? That could help rebuild her credit. You don't even need to actually give her a credit card. Just putting her on the account will help her.
            So, it was a little of everything. She had some large medical bills he promised had been paid but in reality never paid them (he spent that money on gambling and cigarettes instead). He had cable and phones and other services in her name a while back and then switched services to his name and never paid the ones in hers (he paid the new ones in his name though). All have gone to collections. He maxed out credit cards in her name while she believed they were paid (while always paying the ones in his name).He was very abusive and she had no idea her credit was even a mess. Sociopaths are very controlling like that, and I do believe she had no clue. She has endured 45 years of his antics, and she would never file a police report despite knowing he has wronged her. She never even filed police reports when he was very physically violent to all of us and the cops wanted her to press charges, she will not file one now.

            My credit is very good, 846 last I checked, and I already do plan to add her as an AU to my largest card (and not give her the card exactly as you suggested).

            Glad to know there is not a huge rush in getting things transitioned, that is a relief!

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              #7
              Originally posted by HundredK View Post

              Glad to know there is not a huge rush in getting things transitioned, that is a relief!
              Yeah, for financial accounts it's important because of taxes and such, but for other things, they really have no way to know that he died unless she tells them. The phone company or electric company couldn't care less as long as the bill gets paid every month.
              Steve

              * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
              * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
              * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

              Comment


                #8
                So sorry for your loss and the mess you and your mother are left to deal with.

                I think you need to get some expert advice specific to your geographical area. Here are the sorts of places you might go to and it won't cost you anything to get started at these places.
                1. Senior Center in the city where your Mom lives. Look for one that's run by the City. They often know where to point people. Some even offer free consultations with a lawyer.
                2. County or State Department on Aging (or similar name).
                3. Library - They often keep databases on services for people facing challenging situations. Give them a call - it can't hurt, and you may luck out and connect with someone caring and knowledgeable.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I am sorry for your loss. However, if she is financially devastated how is she going to be able to afford to pay the bills or is there income coming in? You really may need to talk to a lawyer about his debt. I am not sure how that passes on or not to a spouse. You might also consider a different living arrangement, maybe time for her to get an apartment or something and sell the house and start fresh.

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                    #10
                    Sorry for your loss and for being in such a tragic situation.
                    I'm not sure if there is an easy way to get things cleaned up short of a calling everyone individually and speaking to someone who will hear and understand your situation.
                    Talking to an attorney might help. They could at least help you get started or tell you how to navigate the waters.

                    I'd guess that there are some opt out type clauses when dealing with the deceased.
                    You might be able to get things set up in your mom's name only fairly easily.
                    Her credit score might not matter with the utilities.

                    Brian

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by Snicks View Post
                      I am sorry for your loss. However, if she is financially devastated how is she going to be able to afford to pay the bills or is there income coming in? You really may need to talk to a lawyer about his debt. I am not sure how that passes on or not to a spouse. You might also consider a different living arrangement, maybe time for her to get an apartment or something and sell the house and start fresh.
                      She does have a small amount of money coming in. She'd always been the breadwinner, my dad rarely worked in his life, he just spent the money she made. She is currently collecting social security and working part time at a minimum wage job. They have no assets, not even a house. Just a car that's probably going to die any day now. Fortunately their landlord has been kind and has never raised their rent, so she's in a 3 bedroom house for just a thousand bucks a month which I don't think I could beat by having her move to a small apartment (I might see if the landlord would be amenable to her getting a roomie to share rent with). They live in a community property and community debt state, so his debt is hers - but he made pretty darn sure that he left all of the debt in her name anyway, so I guess that doesn't really matter. I don't know that a lawyer would be able to do anything except suggest bankruptcy - but she's 65, and I don't think that's the best solution at the moment.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by scfr View Post
                        So sorry for your loss and the mess you and your mother are left to deal with.

                        I think you need to get some expert advice specific to your geographical area. Here are the sorts of places you might go to and it won't cost you anything to get started at these places.
                        1. Senior Center in the city where your Mom lives. Look for one that's run by the City. They often know where to point people. Some even offer free consultations with a lawyer.
                        2. County or State Department on Aging (or similar name).
                        3. Library - They often keep databases on services for people facing challenging situations. Give them a call - it can't hurt, and you may luck out and connect with someone caring and knowledgeable.
                        This is a great idea! I'll check out what is in their area and see what resources I can find. Thanks!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by HundredK View Post
                          she's in a 3 bedroom house for just a thousand bucks a month which I don't think I could beat by having her move to a small apartment
                          Don't be so sure. If she has a low income, she probably qualifies for some sort of subsidized senior housing. My mom sold her house 14 years ago (so she was about 76) and moved to a senior apartment building. Her rent is $583/month for a nice 1-bedroom apartment. The rent is on a sliding scale based on income. She also has qualified for utility assistance and some other aid.

                          You need to find a good senior care resource in the community who can help tell her everything she qualifies for.
                          Steve

                          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                            Don't be so sure. If she has a low income, she probably qualifies for some sort of subsidized senior housing. My mom sold her house 14 years ago (so she was about 76) and moved to a senior apartment building. Her rent is $583/month for a nice 1-bedroom apartment. The rent is on a sliding scale based on income. She also has qualified for utility assistance and some other aid.

                            You need to find a good senior care resource in the community who can help tell her everything she qualifies for.
                            That's a fantastic idea. I'd been trying for a while to get them to look into subsidized housing options, but my dad refused. Maybe now I can get my mom to do it. I'm going to find some senior resources in the next day or two and see what her options are. Thanks! Utility assistance too, yes, I bet she might qualify now. Great ideas!

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                              #15
                              Sorry for your loss. I went through similar issues with my mom, she was flat broke and had a bunch of credit card debt.
                              Basically, everything falls on you, hopefully you have a sibling to help out. First thing I did was got legal guardianship and power of attorney and completely took over her finances. I paid all bills, had all bills sent to me, gave her an allowance, gas cards, etc. No more credit cards, sold the car, etc. We are now in a similar situation with my mother in law.

                              At 65 she's eligible for social security, so you need to get that going to get some income coming in. You will probably have to bridge the gap until then. I'd be looking at getting her into some income based housing. My mother in law has only social security income of roughly $900 per month. She's in a great income based apartment complex and rent is under $150 per month. She also gets her utilities severely reduced and a SNAP card for groceries. All medical is covered by Medicaid. She's able to get along fine on that $900 per month. Despite how people gripe about the US system, we do take pretty good care of the elderly. You just have to dig in and figure out the details and that part is no fun.


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