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Need another set of eyes on this situation
Old 04-26-2015, 04:03 PM   #1
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Need another set of eyes on this situation

I'm wanting some input from others on my sister's situation.

My sister is 62 and retired with a pension. Her husband is 71 with SS & pension. This is a second marriage. When they married 10 years ago, their financial planner had them take the profit from the sale of their respective homes and invest with him. They purchased a new home together using an investment to make the monthly payments. The husband became ill and they sold their home for a one floor condo. Before they could move in, his health deteriorated and he is now in a nursing home, unfortunately most likely permanently. (a side note they have decent long term care insurance). For the condo, my sister chose to do get another mortgage and use the investment vehicle to make the monthly payments. My sister had no significant assets before this marriage. Her husband had 403b and possibly life insurance money from his wife's death. I am uncertain of actual amounts, but am guessing somewhere between 500K to 7500K.

I have never heard someone use an investment to pay their monthly mortgage. Before doing this the second time, I tried talking with my sister about their financial situation and perhaps selling some investments to pay for part of the new condo. Her response appeared to be a combination of she was unsure of what I was talking about and not wanting to disclose her financial situation. Her daughter shares some of my own concerns.

We are planning to approach her in another month - she just moved into the condo - to discuss our concerns about the advice of the financial planner.

My questions to the forum
1. are you familiar with someone using an investment to pay their monthly mortgage? Does this appear sound?
2. Any advice on how to approach my sister about our concerns without offending her? We would like to review her financial situation with her, along with her 2 daughters. I would rather have her mad at me now than wait 20 years from now and learn she's been taken to the cleaners. She's been mad at me in the past and gotten over it.
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Old 04-26-2015, 04:25 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ohio Tealady View Post
she was unsure of what I was talking about and not wanting to disclose her financial situation.
This is the key, I think.
It's possible her FA has her buffaloed, to his benefit instead of hers, but you have no way of knowing that unless she is open with you.

My only suggestion is to offer your advice and help in as sincere a manner as possible, but I don't see an easy way out here. She will have to make her own decisions. You might try gently asking a few questions to open her up, but if she shuts the discussion down you really don't have any other options IMHO.
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Old 04-26-2015, 04:36 PM   #3
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I'm retired, and my investments pay all of my bills. I don't have a pension, am too young for SS, have a mortgage, and basically all our expenses come out of our rentals, a small side business, and our mutual funds investments.

You haven't said what this investment is, but if it's just your average stocks/mutual funds/bonds/whatever, then paying the mortgage from the proceeds is how people without pensions do it. If it's something else like an annuity or whole life policy, I don't think that's a very good way to pay for the mortgage. More details would be necessary before you can actually get any decent advice, even assuming decent advice is available for free on the internet.


Edit: Reading the OP over again, I get the distinct impression the "investment" is something like an annuity. Despite my personal antipathy towards FAs selling annuities, using the payouts from the annuity to pay the mortgage doesn't make any less sense than using it to pay for groceries. Money is fungible, and it doesn't matter where it comes from, just where it goes.
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Old 04-26-2015, 04:41 PM   #4
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or maybe you could ask her about her financial advisor and go see him yourself. most people do an initial consultation for free and you can usually tell if the guy is on the up and up by where they start the conversation. If they are sleezy and you think poor advisors, then pursue it further. if he seems to be very knowledgeable, then maybe no reason to sour the relationship, but rather monitor the situation.
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Old 04-26-2015, 09:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ohio Tealady View Post
I'm wanting some input from others on my sister's situation.

My sister is 62 and retired with a pension. Her husband is 71 with SS & pension. This is a second marriage. When they married 10 years ago, their financial planner had them take the profit from the sale of their respective homes and invest with him. They purchased a new home together using an investment to make the monthly payments. The husband became ill and they sold their home for a one floor condo. Before they could move in, his health deteriorated and he is now in a nursing home, unfortunately most likely permanently. (a side note they have decent long term care insurance). For the condo, my sister chose to do get another mortgage and use the investment vehicle to make the monthly payments. My sister had no significant assets before this marriage. Her husband had 403b and possibly life insurance money from his wife's death. I am uncertain of actual amounts, but am guessing somewhere between 500K to 7500K.

I have never heard someone use an investment to pay their monthly mortgage. Before doing this the second time, I tried talking with my sister about their financial situation and perhaps selling some investments to pay for part of the new condo. Her response appeared to be a combination of she was unsure of what I was talking about and not wanting to disclose her financial situation. Her daughter shares some of my own concerns.

We are planning to approach her in another month - she just moved into the condo - to discuss our concerns about the advice of the financial planner.

My questions to the forum
1. are you familiar with someone using an investment to pay their monthly mortgage? Does this appear sound?
2. Any advice on how to approach my sister about our concerns without offending her? We would like to review her financial situation with her, along with her 2 daughters. I would rather have her mad at me now than wait 20 years from now and learn she's been taken to the cleaners. She's been mad at me in the past and gotten over it.
I think I can make 2 comments. I went to a therapist once to get advice on a similar but not identical family situation. Her advice was simple. Are you this person's guardian?" "No." "Then mind your own business."

As far as using an investment to pay a mortgage, I agree with Harley, plenty of people use an investment, or more typically a portfolio, to pay a mortgage. It is mainly a matter of arbitraging the portfolio against the mortgage. In my opinion, unless the mortgage can be paid from a very reliable income thrown off by the securities (not selling some of them periodically) it is an unsound idea. Given the current mortgage rates and the current PE10, I would not be attracted to this idea.

But your sister may have sunk the money in a way that she cannot cheaply get it back.

Ha
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Old 04-26-2015, 11:28 PM   #6
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....I would rather have her mad at me now than wait 20 years from now and learn she's been taken to the cleaners. ....
I think what you need to so is explain to your sister that you are concerned about her and her finances and you are willing to help her if she wants... and then leave it to her to come to you.

Or perhaps a ploy might be... if you have a mortgage... that you would like to find out more about this investment that pays your mortgage... but I think harley might be right that perhaps it is an annuity... which would be particularly bad because it is very unlikely that the interest rate earned on the annuity exceeds the mortgage interest rate.

The only reason to get more assertive is if you think it likely that if she was taken to the cleaners that it would become your problem and imperil your retirement.
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Old 04-26-2015, 11:51 PM   #7
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I might question your thinking on selling investments to pay off a mortgage...

First, since it is a new mortgage it is probably low interest... (yes, there are plenty of people who would pay it off anyhow...)


What tax problems might be created by selling investments You could cost her more money if done wrong than what you think can be saved by paying it off...



The suggestion that I would make is to get rid of a FA... but I bet she needs the hand holding and would not even consider that....
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Old 04-27-2015, 01:44 AM   #8
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According to the retirement article in the link below, most people have "the guy" helping them with their finances. It may not be the most common advice here to use "the guy", but face it most people do use advisers and they are not usually fee only:

"In my ad hoc retirement talks, I repeatedly hear about the “guy.” This is a for-profit investment adviser, often described as, “I have this guy who is pretty good, he always calls, doesn’t push me into investments.” When I ask how much the “guy” costs, or if the guy has fiduciary loyalty — to the client, not the firm — or if their investments do better than a standard low-fee benchmark, they inevitably don’t know. After hearing about their magical guy, I ask about their “number.” "

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/op...ment.html?_r=0

Unless you have concerns your sister is not mentally competent to make her own financial decisions, personally I would take Ha's advice and mind my own business.
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Old 04-27-2015, 05:25 AM   #9
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I think it makes sense for her daughters to approach her as they would be the one's expected to bail her out and it shouldn't be perceived as invasive by their mother if they asked. Perhaps you should stay in the background as backup to her daughters at this stage.
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Old 04-27-2015, 06:20 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Ohio Tealady View Post
.

I have never heard someone use an investment to pay their monthly mortgage. Before doing this the second time, I tried talking with my sister about their financial situation and perhaps selling some investments to pay for part of the new condo. Her response appeared to be a combination of she was unsure of what I was talking about and not wanting to disclose her financial situation. Her daughter shares some of my own concerns.

We are planning to approach her in another month - she just moved into the condo - to discuss our concerns about the advice of the financial planner.

My questions to the forum
1. are you familiar with someone using an investment to pay their monthly mortgage? Does this appear sound?
2. Any advice on how to approach my sister about our concerns without offending her? We would like to review her financial situation with her, along with her 2 daughters. I would rather have her mad at me now than wait 20 years from now and learn she's been taken to the cleaners. She's been mad at me in the past and gotten over it.

1) Yes, i am familiar with people using investments to pay their mortgage. I do it. My late husband was the major breadwinner in the family, when he passed away the financial planning we put in place kicked in.
I am certainly not going to have hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in a low interest savings account.
I have automatic deposits. every month a certain amount gets deposited into my checking account.

2) I'm not a "mind your own business" type of gal. Me and my sister are extremely close and I can tell you if I even remotely thought some thing fishy was going on, I'd be stalking her like a lion on a gazelle to find out what the hell was happening.
Can you simply ask her? start the coversation with
"hey sis, I have some questions about XYSZ advice, it just doesn't sound right to me" why do they have you doing this?

If any thing you can find out how knowledgable she is about what the FA is doing.
She actually may appreciate your concern. My late husband was the investment guru in our marriage, and that's how we loved it but when he died I had to step up to the plate. I appreciated those who I could trust (my siblings) to have my best interest in mind during a time when I was not in my rational mind.
They help me find a compentant FA and I've joined boards like this to also learn about things to do with my dough.
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Old 04-27-2015, 07:24 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ohio Tealady View Post
I'm wanting some input from others on my sister's situation.

I am uncertain of actual amounts, but am guessing somewhere between 500K to 7500K.

I have never heard someone use an investment to pay their monthly mortgage.

We are planning to approach her in another month - she just moved into the condo - to discuss our concerns about the advice of the financial planner.
500K to 7.5MM, quite a range! or did you mean 750K? I would suspect if it is 7.5MM... you'd be much less concerned... unless she bought a $5MM condo.

Using investments to pay mortgages is more common with low mortgage rates. If one makes more in investment than the mortgage interest rate, they actually can make money...ok, really need to consider the tax effects on the investment and mortgage interest.

If the investment is an annuity, it may be difficult to get at... or expensive anyway.

When my FIL passed, my MIL shared her financial situation... and we shared ours with her too. I wanted her to feel comfortable that we were not after her assets. We were lucky she was so open.

Think of it this way, you are asking to strip search her... she obviously sees her financial situation as very private... maybe because she doesn't have enough... or because she has a lot.

She may have an annuity which many here might think is a bad investment. However, for some with low risk tolerance, it may be appropriate. Your sister could be in annuities or other investments.

As for how to start this conversation.... this is difficult. I would avoid the approach where you put her on the defensive... "we are concerned that you are mismanaging your retirement accounts". Her children may be a better or worse reception depending on the family dynamics. You might do better with the Colombo approach "I don't under stand much about this... could you help me understand how and investment throws off enough to pay a mortgage?.. etc. Also, be prepared to share your situation if she show s hers.
Just don't sound like "we want to check because we don't think you know what you are doing"... which is how she may take any approach. You chance alienating her... and she has no requirement to share anything.

just don't be the know it all big sister... be a caring friend...or a sister who wants to learn from her.
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Old 04-27-2015, 06:36 PM   #12
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Looks like another "ask and run". No way to answer without more detail. Too bad, I'm curious about this investment and mortgage set up.
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Old 05-02-2015, 09:24 AM   #13
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Thank you for your comments. It has been helpful to get another perspective. To answer some of your questions:

I am uncertain what the investment vehicle my sister is using. She nor her husband (before the dementia) were financial wizards, so they have relied on a FA. To clarify, I believe her assets are between 500K and 750K (not 7.5 million; my typo). Many of you have suggested the investment is an annuity. You may be right.

I appreciate the comments about how or if I should approach this subject with her. I especially liked HaHa's comment about a therapist telling him to mind his own business about his concern for a family member. I AM A THERAPIST! LOL

I've talked with my sister's two daughters. They would like my husband and I, along with them, to be part of a gentle conversation with my sister about financial planning. She has been thru a lot this past year with her husband's health sinking like the Titanic within the past 9 months where he is now in a nursing home. They sold their home to build a one story accessible condo. The condo was finished about the time he went into the nursing home. She has gotten her legal ducks in order by meeting with an attorney with her daughter present. As a family we have some questions/concerns about the financial part. Her stress level has been extremely high but there have been some questionable decisions she has made which fuel our speculation about financial decisions.

I don't want 10 years to go by, her financial situation not be sustainable, and realize I might have helped if I only said something. I have no problem with her being angry or offended by my nose in her business. Likewise I will have to accept if she chooses not to share her financial information we me or her daughters.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comments. Much appreciated.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:36 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ohio Tealady View Post
I'm wanting some input from others on my sister's situation.

My sister is 62 and retired with a pension. Her husband is 71 with SS & pension. This is a second marriage. When they married 10 years ago, their financial planner had them take the profit from the sale of their respective homes and invest with him. They purchased a new home together using an investment to make the monthly payments. The husband became ill and they sold their home for a one floor condo. Before they could move in, his health deteriorated and he is now in a nursing home, unfortunately most likely permanently. (a side note they have decent long term care insurance). For the condo, my sister chose to do get another mortgage and use the investment vehicle to make the monthly payments. My sister had no significant assets before this marriage. Her husband had 403b and possibly life insurance money from his wife's death. I am uncertain of actual amounts, but am guessing somewhere between 500K to 7500K.

I have never heard someone use an investment to pay their monthly mortgage. Before doing this the second time, I tried talking with my sister about their financial situation and perhaps selling some investments to pay for part of the new condo. Her response appeared to be a combination of she was unsure of what I was talking about and not wanting to disclose her financial situation. Her daughter shares some of my own concerns.

We are planning to approach her in another month - she just moved into the condo - to discuss our concerns about the advice of the financial planner.

My questions to the forum
1. are you familiar with someone using an investment to pay their monthly mortgage? Does this appear sound?
2. Any advice on how to approach my sister about our concerns without offending her? We would like to review her financial situation with her, along with her 2 daughters. I would rather have her mad at me now than wait 20 years from now and learn she's been taken to the cleaners. She's been mad at me in the past and gotten over it.
UPDATE:

This is an update on the post I made in March. My brother-in-law died at the nursing home in June. My sister is doing ok. She has made several comments about her financial situation so my husband and I made the offer to sit down with her. It was an eye opener.

15 year mortgage at 4% for condo bought in 2015
monthly payment $1000
$138,000 to pay off mortgage
condo cost $250,000 in a community where the average condo sells for $175,000; it's nice but not that nice

Her husband had a high income with his SS, pension and a pension he received from his deceased wife. My sister is a retired state employee with a very modest pension. With SS windfall elimination provision, she receives a modest widow's SS benefit. I am uncertain of the exact amount. (We haven't gotten that far in our discussions yet). Possible
$30k a year. She does have health insurance thru retirement.

She has two years left on her car. Don't know amount or interest rate.

She has two time shares. One is paid off next year. She is interested in selling these. This will probably take awhile and be a loss. Don't know these amounts either

Life insurance from husband $25,000

A few small CD's $7000

$265,000 with Ameriprise. Not the $500 - 750K I thought. It appears to be 50/50 allocation with $50,000 in cash. All in mutual funds. Apparently it was $500K originally but with the 2008 recession, they paid for their mortgage thru this account and her husband withdrew a lot of money. He liked to have money in his bank account and was a very generous person - liked to buy your dinners and give to the church. Currently she is withdrawing $2500 a month for house payment, car payment and ?. (Obviously this withdrawal rate is unsustainable.) My sister likes to shop.

This is what we have recommended to her:
1. Continue to work with her to get the whole financial picture.
2. Encouraged her to go to Vanguard and BH wiki to learn the basics. I did show her some of the calculators, especially withdrawing from your nest egg. I explained low cost index funds with set asset allocations.
3. Discussed paying down part of her mortgage and re-amortize her payment.
4. Our FP has offered to consult with her gratis to review her investments and offer some recommendations
5. Offering to meet with her FP to review options.
6. Encouraged her to consider a part time job, develop a budget and reduce spending.

It was very difficult for us to see the deer in the headlight look on her face as we were discussing all of this. We reassured her this was a process and we would help her. In one respect I feel this was my brother-in-law's money and he was able to live a lifestyle he wanted during his short retirement. They did many things and enjoyed themselves. However, she does not yet realize that she cannot sustain this spending level. In other words, the party is over, and she's sitting alone with her party hat still on.

One somewhat bright spot. My siblings and I are to inherit money from our parents and aunt. Our parents are in their late 80's and our aunt is a young 77 year old. All in decent health. Baring a catastrophic health issue where they would spend down their assets, she might inherit $100-150K someday.

My question to this forum -- what are we missing? What other suggestions can you offer?

Your insights would be most helpful. Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-05-2015, 10:04 AM   #15
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I am not averse enough to interject wise thoughts on the entire process, but I have one thought that needs further exploring as it can be a possible big unexpected negative.... Don't assume anything concerning SS whenever the words "government pension" and "WEP" are mentioned together. Obviously she is needing monthly income and I would want a firm grip on what exactly the WEP will do to this earnings stream.
There is a WEP calculator on the SS website. Very kind of you to help in the planning process. This could really save a possible financial hardship down the road, as 62 is still very young.


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Old 09-05-2015, 10:58 AM   #16
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Basically your sister has 300,000 in her assets so she can withdraw $1 000 a month . That is enough to pay the mortgage and she has to live on her pension ,possibly ss and maybe a part time job. She will have to do a lot of budget trimming .
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Old 09-05-2015, 11:23 AM   #17
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Not sure I can add much without a lot of thought. I think this is past the point where I'd consider a single payment immediate annuity, so certainly think about that for better current income at the expense of estate value and potential inflation erosion. Or a deferred annuity as longevity insurance. Easier to have a clear budget too.
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Old 09-05-2015, 06:18 PM   #18
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Ohio Tealady - Your sister is very fortunate to have you as a sibling. You are probably keeping her out of what would become a financial meltdown in just a few years. Bless you!
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:56 PM   #19
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Sounds like you covered it with her. She is blessed to have you. I would let it soak in and do it over again. I am sure this is coming fast to her she is most likely not absorbing all at this time. I am sure she is still grieving her mate.


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Old 09-05-2015, 10:41 PM   #20
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Your sister is VERY lucky to have you as a sibling.

I applaud you for sticking your nose in, as I refrained from doing that with a relative and now their situation is completely hopeless.

I once owned a timeshare, you will probably find the 2 timeshares are simply money sucking holes that never fill up. If they are super quality ones, you might be able to sell them for a small fraction of their cost.

You can check on ebay to see what timeshares at those locations sell for. Personally I feel lucky I was able to return my timeshare to the company and only pay a legal fee of $250. (I had bought it on ebay for $1,200 and used it for years so not a big loss). Now I'm not paying the $900 per yr maintenance fee.

Perhaps she can switch to a small cheap new/newish car and sell the one she has if it is an expensive luxury model.

Her best bet is to pick up a part-time/full-time job, could she consult at the job she used to do ?
A few years from now if she does not get a job, she will not be able to do so due to being out of the work force for so long and being older.
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