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Old 09-09-2009, 08:57 PM   #21
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I think there are a lot of deeply thought out options in these posts. My suggestion would be to make a chart with a single option on top. Make two columns on the chart labeled Pros and Cons. Put positive outcomes on the pro side of the column, and negative thoughts on the con side. Do this for every option suggested and it might be easier to decide which option would be best in your case.
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:36 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat View Post
A joint checking account has its own risks. When she passes legally the balance is yours (that happened when my grandmother died, the co-owner claimed all). My grandmothers children all had an understanding that it was in the estate, that the person whose name was on the account was just a co-signer. The other issue is that the account could become entangled in your own assets.
Allow me to add another 0.02...BTDT

I was an Alternate Executor with no PoA. At the right time, my name was added to an original owner's account along with the Executor. It was now a 3 way joint account. All was well, or so I thought.
The Executor emptied the account post-mortem and transferred all assets to an account in only the Executor's name, not a fidiciary account for the estate. I didn't find out until I probed.
I had my attorney call the Executor's attorney and convince them both that such an action could be legal grounds for removal of the Executor and possible larceny charges.
They straightened up and flew right after that.

It does happen. You can count on that.
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:50 AM   #23
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A joint checking account has its own risks. When she passes legally the balance is yours (that happened when my grandmother died, the co-owner claimed all).
When she did pass I wrote a letter to the county administrator of wills indicating that the purpose of the joint account was for convenience only and I waived any ownership interest in it, thus placing those funds back into the estate. It wasn't that much money, just her regular monthly income from SS, her pension, and an annuity income from the company where Dad worked. The rest of her assets were in her name only and were distributed according to her will.

But you're right, if the other half of the joint account gets greedy it can cause problems. That never crossed my mind - why create a lifelong family quarrel over what amounted to a couple thousand bucks in an estate that was well over six figures?
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Old 09-10-2009, 09:47 AM   #24
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Thanks to all for your thoughtful comments and suggestions. I really appreciate the supportive words from so many of you. It is ironic and sad how quickly the parent/child role reversal can occur. It is comforting to me to hear that so many others have been or are in similar situations. I know this is not a new problem, until roughly 50-100 years ago it was common to have lots of children with the expectation that at least some of them would be able to support the parents in their old age. And, it is still that way in many other societies.

A new piece of information has arisen, which is that a reverse mortgage is not feasible due to the way the house is titled (there are other ownership interests at stake).

As several suggested, I think bankruptcy is likely, followed by some real serious review of expenses, what's discretionary and what isn't, etc. Still investigating the ease with which credit card debt can be negotiated downwards, presumably if the banks stand to get more than they would out of a filing, they're likely to be willing to consider it.

A key theme that keeps arising in this thread is the need to preserve one's own marriage and sibling relationships through it all, I will endeavor to make that the top priority!

Thanks to all!
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Old 09-10-2009, 10:12 AM   #25
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When she did pass I wrote a letter to the county administrator of wills indicating that the purpose of the joint account was for convenience only and I waived any ownership interest in it, thus placing those funds back into the estate. It wasn't that much money, just her regular monthly income from SS, her pension, and an annuity income from the company where Dad worked. The rest of her assets were in her name only and were distributed according to her will.

But you're right, if the other half of the joint account gets greedy it can cause problems. That never crossed my mind - why create a lifelong family quarrel over what amounted to a couple thousand bucks in an estate that was well over six figures?
In my grandmother's situation my aunt did it on the advise of her son in law, an attorney. And yes it did effect family relationships. My parents were so hurt that on their request I didn't see her kids for 30 years, their generation passed away.
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Old 09-10-2009, 11:39 AM   #26
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My father was in a similar situation at 82. We all told him to declare bankruptcy and stiff the credit card companies. He insisted on paying his business debts off, and the only reason for that could have been that somewhere in LaLaVille (where he must have been living) he thought he would start another business at that age. So, he paid it all off...and ended up with absolutely no money hardly at all. It was stupid, and we kids were right. And, of course, he was left with no money to start another business even if he could have.
THIS from a man who would screw anyone over for money--particularly his relatives--and he insisted on paying his business debts. Go figure?
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Old 09-10-2009, 03:37 PM   #27
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I think in large part whether or not a financial intervention can be successful or not is likely linked to whether the party in trouble is asking for help to find a solution to their problem or if it is a concerned family member trying to help someone who is obviously in trouble out of their situation.

My mother is currently in a situation where she has credit card debt she cannot pay. I refuse to pay it, a pensioner with her income should never have been approved for what she was given. I have told my siblings, none of whom are able to kick in any money that she needs to declare bankruptcy. Like Orchidflower, my mother is insisting on trying to pay when she can pay no more than the minimum payment so the debt is never going to be paid off. If I did pay off the cards, approx. $10k, I would put money on her running up a similar amount again within a couple of years. She will never change her behaviour because she is not willing to admit there is an issue. My issue with paying off the debt is my mother has taken these cards and my sister is the one who has maxed them out but will not pay.
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Old 09-15-2009, 09:32 PM   #28
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I also have parents who have over-extended on cards and can't pay it back. They have approx. $150K in home equity, and owe $32K on CC's and $15.8K to the IRS. The IRS debt is scheduled for 10 $1580 installments, and the cards are min payment 1600 per month. Their total income is about $30K from SS, with nothing else and no cash left, as they infromed me last night. I have the ability to pay this for them, and I am contemplating many options, including buying their house from them and relieving them of the $211K mortgage.

Question : can they declare bankruptcy and stiff the card companies ? Or does their home equity preclude this option ?
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:58 AM   #29
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DangerMouse, sorry to say this but our sister sounds like a creep. What a dilemma for you and your mother. What's that old saying about you can pick your friends, but...
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Old 09-16-2009, 07:21 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by FinanceGeek View Post
It is ironic and sad how quickly the parent/child role reversal can occur.
The real heartache of growing older is not crow's feet, or aches and pains, but caring for aging, and eventually dying, parents. It is shockingly difficult, emotionally, financially, and logistically... and most of us are totally unprepared for it.

Best wishes to you.
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:51 PM   #31
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DangerMouse, sorry to say this but our sister sounds like a creep. What a dilemma for you and your mother. What's that old saying about you can pick your friends, but...
Actually you would be surprised, my sister is a really nice person and if you met her you would probably like her. Even though she has financially stripped my mother for the past 20+ years since she moved home after her divorce and dumped her children on my parents to be raised, my mother is still in denial about what actually happens. The truth is my mother does not like me at all, she does not like that I have made a success of my life. She also does not like me because I won't indulge her whining. If you have a problem I will listen to it the first time, but don't complain to me every time you see me. I told her unless she was prepared to do something about it I didn't want to hear it. I know that they will want me to pay the debt with the promise that they will pay me back but it will never happen. Last time my sister borrowed $800 from me it took 3 years before I saw any of it back. An obligation to me, rates a lot lower than going to buy a couple of hundred dollars of books or CD or DVDs that you can't afford.

The stupid thing is my sister is intelligent, probably has an IQ over 140 and makes good money. However, you can sit down and do a budget with her, show that if you make $100 you can only spend that amount but she will the next day go and spend $140 without a care in the world. She has no common sense, lives in a fantasy world where the universe will always look after you. When she was having troubles with her children, both of which are a mess due to her poor parenting skills, she would go and get her tarot cards read to find out what she should do about the situation.

As you say you can not choose your family. It will be coming to a head as for the first time since my father's funeral 12 years ago, next month my 3 siblings and myself are going to be in the same location, so I'm bringing up the financial situation in front of all of them with my mother present so there can be none of the usual misrepresentation of what has been said. I'm going to be making it clear that I will not pay the debt, my mother needs to declare bankruptcy and I will only provide financial situation if my mother removes herself from my sister's clutches as I refuse to fund my sister's lifestyle.
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