Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
wilked
Posts: 1178
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by wilked » Sun Sep 22, 2013 7:51 pm

My father left my mother yesterday, left a note and not much else. We are working on getting some communication, but for now assume there is none. My mom basically left all things finance to my dad so she has no idea of what is where. She is very smart and capable, but is starting at a disadvantage.

State of finances:
-House paid off
-Half of savings removed (down to the penny). ~9-12 months worth ofexpenses I would expect remain. Accounts are in both names
-Retirement accounts are a big question mark. My mom has a TSP, prob not too big, and is aware that she has a Roth at Vanguard, but amount unknown. My dad just retired 2 weeks ago, and will get something like 75% salary as a pension. Mom is ~5 years from retirement age
-No debt, cars paid off, etc. He took one car and his m/c. Took clothes, passport, not much else.

We will build a budget in the morning, figure out which bills there are, try to determine how they are paid, etc. At the moment unsure what to do with bank accounts. Unsure at what point to contact a lawyer.

Any advice would be appreciated.
Last edited by wilked on Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

billern
Posts: 1072
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:08 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by billern » Sun Sep 22, 2013 7:53 pm

It seems like talking to a lawyer to find out what her rights are now would be a prudent move.

gkaplan
Posts: 7034
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 8:34 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by gkaplan » Sun Sep 22, 2013 7:56 pm

I agree. The first thing she needs to do Monday morning is talk to a lawyer.
Gordon

Texas hold em71
Posts: 595
Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 11:09 am

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Texas hold em71 » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:02 pm

I would get a lawyer. It sounds like he thinks he has done the honorable thing and left her with half, but you have no idea if he considers his pension "his" and her pension "hers" etc. She needs to secure her rights.

A lesson here for all spouses who leave everything financial to the other spouse. She is blessed to have you to help her.

JW-Retired
Posts: 6370
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:25 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by JW-Retired » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:02 pm

wilked wrote: Unsure at what point to contact a lawyer.

Unless the note clearly indicated this would all blow over very soon, she should do so Monday.
JW
Retired at Last

wilked
Posts: 1178
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by wilked » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:04 pm

Are lawyers initial consult typically free? She has a name of a supposedly good lawyer, and I think will be contacting them. Just checking...

ResearchMed
Posts: 5104
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:04 pm

It would probably be prudent for her to move all of the accessible money into an account that is in HER name only, first thing tomorrow, so he can't surprise her with further partitioning of the assets.

RM

wilked
Posts: 1178
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by wilked » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:13 pm

1. Tmrw AM, schedule appt with lawyer
2. Open bank account in her name, move her half over

I guess it is all pretty straightforward.

Any misc advice beyond the above?

Fallible
Posts: 6097
Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:44 pm
Contact:

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Fallible » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:14 pm

wilked wrote:Are lawyers initial consult typically free? She has a name of a supposedly good lawyer, and I think will be contacting them. Just checking...


Here is advice on finding the right attorney from nolo.com. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ ... 29868.html
Bogleheads® wiki | Investing Advice Inspired by Jack Bogle

furwut
Posts: 1238
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:54 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by furwut » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:16 pm

Contact Vanguard and TSP and ensure your mother has exclusive access. You'll have to do this for other financial arrangements as well.

I know in auto insurance it is not uncommon for one party to cancel the insurance, pocket the refund and neglect to tell the other they are now uninsured.

livesoft
Posts: 56371
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by livesoft » Sun Sep 22, 2013 8:16 pm

I would also assume that Dad has a lawyer and may be acting under his lawyer's advice.
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

Gnirk
Posts: 664
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:11 am
Location: Western Washington

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Gnirk » Sun Sep 22, 2013 9:47 pm

I'm so sorry to hear of your parents' sudden separation.
Here are a few thoughts, from someone who experienced an almost identical situation, only at a younger age:

Make sure she has her OWN attorney, that they don't use the same attorney to save money. (I did that, and didn't realize I was entitled to a portion of his retirement because I hadn't worked in years at his request, so guess what? The dissolution agreement stated we each were entitled to our own retirements, and I didn't have any!) :oops:
Make sure to document everything that has been done (father taking half the account, when removed, how much, etc).
Since she wasn't involved in finances, start going through files, in case there are other accounts (financial or credit cards), and look at the details on their income tax returns, also a way to find accounts she may not know about. And then document everything going forward (closed joint account,moved remainder to individual account, etc).

Inventory the household furnishings, just for her own protection.
And you might want to ask the attorney if she should change locks on the house.

freebeer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 8:30 am
Location: Seattle area USA

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by freebeer » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:06 pm

furwut wrote:Contact Vanguard and TSP and ensure your mother has exclusive access. You'll have to do this for other financial arrangements as well.

I know in auto insurance it is not uncommon for one party to cancel the insurance, pocket the refund and neglect to tell the other they are now uninsured.


+1, you'll want to investigate life insurance policies (if any), medical insurance, even homeowners insurance if no longer on an escrow.

And he may have had other retirement savings accounts or other taxable brokerage or bank accounts. If he was doing the finances getting a financial statement from him with his representation that it's complete and accurate is perhaps reasonable starting point. But the big deal here is probably "his" 75%-salary pension, depending on what state they are in and how long they have been married almost certainly she would be entitled to a portion - perhaps 50% - of this, as pensions earned during marriage are . His gambit may have been to try to get away without owning up to this either b/c he is being sneaky or b/c he just may not know the law and feel instinctively that it is "his" (my sister's ex made this play and we still don't know which was the case). Of course if it's a $2M house and he's walking away from it then maybe that would balance out his keeping 100% of the pension but a) that's unlikely and b) you would at least want to get a quitclaim from him on the house. Any local lawyer should know the drill.

User avatar
aja8888
Posts: 484
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:28 pm
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by aja8888 » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:13 pm

Make sure the lawyer you use is very experienced with family law and CHECK REFERENCES. Nothing worse than a bad lawyer. :oops: You only have one shot at this.

Laren
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 12:06 am

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Laren » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:33 pm

--Get a credit report to help turn up any unknown accounts, and any unknown debts.

--Make sure important bills have been paid - health insurance, home/auto insurance, mortgage payments. Also make sure nothing has been cancelled, and contact info has not been changed on the accounts. (If contact info has been changed, that will give you an idea of where he's gone).

--Compile a list of all known assets, and all known debts for the lawyer.
Go through tax returns, bank and credit card statements (you can often download these from online if the paper copies are hard to find), check registers, etc.

--I'd want to know if mail addressed to him is still being delivered to your address. I'd worry about statements etc. that you need not coming to you. You could try asking at the post office to see if there's a forwarding order, or just address an envelope to him at your address, mail it, and see if it comes to you.

--Get in to see the lawyer ASAP!

Check with the lawyer before implementing any of these:
--Consider closing current credit cards to avoid allowing additional joint debt to accumulate.
--I think she may well be entitled to part of his pension, so don't just let that go.
--I'd want to change the locks on the house to try to prevent him from coming in to 'divide' the contents without any discussion.
--Find out if there's a way to lock down accounts (pension, investment, bank, etc.) until this has been sorted out to keep him from emptying further accounts. Also any way to make it impossible to cancel health/home/auto insurance coverage without your express permission.

I'm sorry this is happening!

aquifer
Posts: 311
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:01 am

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by aquifer » Sun Sep 22, 2013 10:44 pm

ResearchMed wrote:It would probably be prudent for her to move all of the accessible money into an account that is in HER name only, first thing tomorrow, so he can't surprise her with further partitioning of the assets.

RM


+1
This needs to be her first step before doing anything else. Then see the lawyer. Be at the bank when they open tomorrow morning.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 11309
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Watty » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:01 pm

One thing to check on soon is to find how where her health insurance is coming from and to make sure hers is still being paid.

Since this is so out of the blue it could be that your dad is having some mental or emotional problems so if he does surface soon then you might keep that in mind when you or your Mom are dealing with him.

Lafder
Posts: 3531
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2013 7:56 pm
Location: East of the Rio Grande

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Lafder » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:14 pm

Lots of good advice above.

I am sorry for the stress and surprise for you and your mom.

I agree your mom needs lots of information about her finances and insurance and legal options, and to make sure she has assets she has sole control over in case your dad decides the 50:50 he seems to be doing is not what he wants.

The main thing I wanted to add, is that I have seen this happen a number of times with my own friends and family, and it is possible your dad will change his mind and be back sooner or later.

So plan and prepare that he will not change his mind, but also be aware that this may be temporary, so be aware of irreversible steps your mom may face choices on.

You and your mom are under a lot of stress right now and should be careful about making any major decisions that can be postponed.

But yes she absolutely needs to protect herself as if this is permanent and your dad may not play nice.

How kind that he took half. But how unkind that this is all a total surprise. So where he is at is very unclear.

You can always tell other people about this later. Once you tell, you can not take it back and it can be awkward if they end up back together.

Lafder

FoolStreet
Posts: 425
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:18 am

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by FoolStreet » Sun Sep 22, 2013 11:55 pm

wilked wrote:My father left my mother yesterday, left a note and not much else. We are working on getting some communication, but for now assume there is none. My mom basically left all things finance to my dad so she has no idea of what is where. She is very smart and capable, but is starting at a disadvantage.

State of finances:
-House paid off
-Half of savings removed (down to the penny). ~9-12 months worth ofexpenses I would expect remain. Accounts are in both names
-Retirement accounts are a big question mark. My mom has a TSP, prob not too big, and is aware that she has a Roth at Vanguard, but amount unknown. My dad just retired 2 weeks ago, and will get something like 75% salary as a pension. Mom is ~5 years from retirement age
-No debt, cars paid off, etc. He took one car and his m/c. Took clothes, passport, not much else.

We will build a budget in the morning, figure out which bills there are, try to determine how they are paid, etc. At the moment unsure what to do with bank accounts. Unsure at what point to contact a lawyer.

Any advice would be appreciated.



Great advice so far, but keep in mind that there are always two sides to every story before you get too emotionally invested in one side.

User avatar
DiscoBunny1979
Posts: 2007
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 10:59 am

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by DiscoBunny1979 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:03 am

While I agree that talking with a Lawyer would be the best thing on Monday, I would hold off on moving any money until after I talk with the lawyer. Why? Because in some states, money moved around or items sold (like a car) or even taking of a car when a divorce is 'planned' or suggested might be the forfeiture of those items to the other party. Even if you feel you are entitled to the remaining 50% of bank account $$, if one lives in a equitable distribution state, then only a Judge can determine what is fair. However, if you're in a Community Property state, then any joint accounts are owned equally and can be had by either spouse . . . but even then . . . taking the money and placing it in a different account than how it was originally titled might make you as guilty as the person taking a running with the money.

IlliniDave
Posts: 2117
Joined: Fri May 17, 2013 7:09 am

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:06 am

I agree with the others that prompt contact with an attorney (sadly) is in order. And I second the suggestion to take some effort to ensure she retains a competent attorney. With the attorney job 1 should be securing whatever financial assets she still has as a precaution.
Don't do something. Just stand there!

Rupert
Posts: 2508
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Rupert » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:33 am

wilked wrote:Are lawyers initial consult typically free? She has a name of a supposedly good lawyer, and I think will be contacting them. Just checking...


Local practice varies, but I wouldn't expect a free consultation in a divorce case. Be sure to ask, though, when you schedule the first meeting. Your mom does not need to skimp on the lawyer in this situation. In divorce cases, it really is true that he or she with the best lawyer wins. Domestic relations is a specialized practice. The lawyer you hire should do domestic cases (which includes divorce, adoptions, etc.). almost exclusively. Don't hire someone who just does a divorce occasionally.

wilked
Posts: 1178
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by wilked » Mon Sep 23, 2013 8:34 am

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate the responses.

The Wizard
Posts: 10922
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by The Wizard » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:11 am

Sounds like the paid-off house should simplify things here, assuming the value of the retirement accounts isn't too huge.
In fact, the Mother could end up owning $$ to the Father in this case if other assets are modest and a 50/50 equitable division of assets is done.
A competent lawyer in the OP's state should be able to give a quick overview of the process in the first meeting.
Then comes the exciting discovery work of enumerating all the assets.
It's possible the Father had a few hundred $K on the side in a secret account, so I'm not sure how you find out about that...
Attempted new signature...

linguini
Posts: 260
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:49 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by linguini » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:23 am

DiscoBunny1979 wrote:While I agree that talking with a Lawyer would be the best thing on Monday, I would hold off on moving any money until after I talk with the lawyer. Why? Because in some states, money moved around or items sold (like a car) or even taking of a car when a divorce is 'planned' or suggested might be the forfeiture of those items to the other party. Even if you feel you are entitled to the remaining 50% of bank account $$, if one lives in a equitable distribution state, then only a Judge can determine what is fair. However, if you're in a Community Property state, then any joint accounts are owned equally and can be had by either spouse . . . but even then . . . taking the money and placing it in a different account than how it was originally titled might make you as guilty as the person taking a running with the money.


Yeah I would definitely try to get in touch with a lawyer asap before doing anything dramatic. That said, maybe she could maybe ask the bank to freeze the account to prevent anything from happening to it?

User avatar
HomerJ
Posts: 10243
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 12:50 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by HomerJ » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:34 am

You can move the money immediately and you should.

If/when divorce happens, you'll have to account for it, but there's nothing wrong with moving the money right now to a safe account that he can't get to.

ddunca1944
Posts: 926
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:49 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by ddunca1944 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 9:51 am

HomerJ wrote:You can move the money immediately and you should.

If/when divorce happens, you'll have to account for it, but there's nothing wrong with moving the money right now to a safe account that he can't get to.


+1

If a divorce does happen, both parties will be required to fill out financial disclosure forms. As long as she fills out the form honestly, moving money now is fine. It's when an individual moves the money and does not disclose it on the financial disclosure form that they can get into trouble.

chaz
Posts: 13601
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by chaz » Mon Sep 23, 2013 10:42 am

Fallible wrote:
wilked wrote:Are lawyers initial consult typically free? She has a name of a supposedly good lawyer, and I think will be contacting them. Just checking...


Here is advice on finding the right attorney from nolo.com. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/ ... 29868.html

I like www.nolo.com also.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

ddunca1944
Posts: 926
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:49 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by ddunca1944 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:12 am

wilked wrote:Are lawyers initial consult typically free? She has a name of a supposedly good lawyer, and I think will be contacting them. Just checking...


Some do and some don't. But this is not the time to be frugal. An inexperienced lawyer who offers free consults can end up costing her more than a pricier, more experienced one who charges a retainer up front. The Nolo site is a good place. Also, if you've had any contact with any other lawyers for other reasons, they can give you recommendations. My son's divorce lawyer was recommended by my estate attorney. She was excellent.

rogermexico
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:58 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by rogermexico » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:31 am

It would probably be very useful to have as complete a picture as possible of their current assets as possible. I would think that your legal consultation would be more productive if you are prepared in this way. So Mom should call Vanguard and get account details, login access, etc.
Also some sleuthing through checking/ savings accounts to see if other investment accounts exist, also maybe root through filing cabinet, etc.

WorkToLive
Posts: 579
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by WorkToLive » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:38 am

I didn't see it referenced above, but another task for your mom will be updating the beneficiaries listed on any of her accounts (TSP, Roth for starters; then life insurance, other accounts, will, etc.)

User avatar
patriciamgr2
Posts: 769
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:06 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by patriciamgr2 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:43 am

When your mother consults with her divorce lawyer, please check current ownership status of the "paid off house" & steps which may be taken in your state to ensure that no transfer of ownership or remortgaging occurs initiated by your father. Good Luck during this difficult time.

Jeanz
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:58 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Jeanz » Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:00 pm

If his pension is subject to ERISA, as most are, while they are married she has rights under Federal law to a survivor annuity, I think half. He can waive the survivor annuity if she consents, as in this case she shouldn't. While they both live, or if they divorce, I believe that she needs to obtain a court order, probably as part of the divorce proceedings. It's called a QDRO, Qualified Domestic Relations Order. An elderly relative somehow managed to waive her rights without quite realizing what she was doing; it's quite unfortunate.

If this is a total surprise, your father may be ill; in that case, you'll still need a lawyer to help protect him as well as your mother. It's good of you to help.

User avatar
aja8888
Posts: 484
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:28 pm
Location: The Woodlands, Texas

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by aja8888 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:31 pm

We had a similar thing happen to a friend of my wife. Her husband was out of work and then found a lob in another city a few hundred miles away. He moved there temporarily (apartment) and then they agreed to sell the house so she could move where he was. Once the house was sold, he called her and said "I don't want you to come here", essentially stranding her. She immediately filed for divorce and had him served with the action. Within a few weeks, he decided to reunite with her and she moved to where his job is. Strange things can happen with this stuff, so be prepared.

User avatar
Taylor Larimore
Advisory Board
Posts: 25952
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 8:09 pm
Location: Miami FL

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Taylor Larimore » Mon Sep 23, 2013 1:43 pm

Wilked:

You made a statement that carries a lot of weight:
Half of savings removed (down to the penny).


Your dad is not void of character. Hopefully, your parents will be able to work together for the betterment of everyone.

Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

gulliver
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 12:54 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by gulliver » Mon Sep 23, 2013 4:54 pm

First thing I'd do is call Dad and find out what's up.

User avatar
Dutch
Posts: 1277
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:12 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Dutch » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:03 pm

Sometimes getting a lawyer involved in a divorce, is just a different way of losing money.

chaz
Posts: 13601
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by chaz » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:10 pm

Dutch wrote:Sometimes getting a lawyer involved in a divorce, is just a different way of losing money.

But lawyers need to earn a living too.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

The Wizard
Posts: 10922
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by The Wizard » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:12 pm

Dutch wrote:Sometimes getting a lawyer involved in a divorce, is just a different way of losing money.

...which is why my ex and I used a mediator in our D and saved thousands.
But in this situation, there's stuff that needs protecting using valid advice.
If a divorce happens downstream, it will depends on how cooperative both combatants turn out to be...
Attempted new signature...

User avatar
frugaltype
Posts: 1952
Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:07 am

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by frugaltype » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:12 pm

I am sorry that this has happened to your Mom and you.

As others have said, I would have your Mom move whatever money she has access to into her name. Given the way this happened, she doesn't want to find in a few days that the rest of the money has disappeared and she's penniless.

Ditto on checking on all forms of insurance not being canceled now or in the future, credit cards, etc. Bills like utilities.

If the house in both their names? What about cars?

I would get a copy of the previous several years income tax returns to look for assets and have taxes been paid.

And, as others have mentioned, consider the pension situation. I would call HR at his former employer and ask about the pension and any health care benefits he has as a retiree that she is entitled to some of.

I'm also wondering about this odd suddenness, and what it means about your dad's mental state. Leaving is one thing, avoiding any communication about what has to be done is something else.

This must be devastating for your Mom, and you too. My thoughts are with you.

User avatar
DaleMaley
Posts: 1566
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:04 pm
Location: Fairbury, Illinois
Contact:

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by DaleMaley » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:15 pm

my sister had a similar thing happen after she had been married 24 years.

I agree on getting your mother a good lawyer ASAP.

In my sister's case, it was war for 18 months until the final divorce decree was issued. I was her financial advisor during the whole thing. Nobody wins in a divorce except the lawyers.

good luck
Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. – Warren Buffett

User avatar
noyopacific
Posts: 352
Joined: Wed Jan 28, 2009 6:06 pm
Location: Mendocino

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by noyopacific » Mon Sep 23, 2013 6:50 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:Wilked:

You made a statement that carries a lot of weight:
Half of savings removed (down to the penny).


Your dad is not void of character. Hopefully, your parents will be able to work together for the betterment of everyone.

I'll second Taylors comments and add: I don't think that Wilked ever said that he had any particular issues in his relationship with Father. I would be very careful about taking sides here. So far, you really only know Moms side of this story. While I appreciate your efforts to assist her, I would also do everything I could to avoid taking either side in the divorce of my parents.
Best wishes,
The information contained herein, while not guaranteed by us, has been obtained from from sources which have not in the past proved particularly reliable.

wilked
Posts: 1178
Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:50 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by wilked » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:31 pm

A little more info...

He stated he wanted a divorce ~ 2ish years ago, moved out for a day, moved back in. Nothing was really settled though. Things have seemed back to normal, better than ever, even up to the previous day. So while it was out of the blue, it did have some warning in a sense. I highly doubt mental breakdown due to that.

I did call, straight to voicemail, phone is either off or discarded.

I highly doubt he has any plans to leave my mom high and dry financially, but then I would have told you I highly doubt he would leave his wife of almost 30 years with just a note. Everything is in both their names. She is on his health insurance. She is calling all bills, already spoke to HR, essentially following the advice of this thread, trying to sort things out.

The house is probably worth 3-4 years of his untaxed pension. Other known assets are the three vehicles (two cars and a m/c), savings accounts. A copy of the income taxes is a good idea, but perhaps not simple to find. I will have her check the computers for Turbo Tax files, etc

User avatar
Taylor Larimore
Advisory Board
Posts: 25952
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 8:09 pm
Location: Miami FL

Obtaining copies of federal income tax returns.

Post by Taylor Larimore » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:37 pm

A copy of the income taxes is a good idea, but perhaps not simple to find.

This link may be useful:

How-to-Get-Your-Prior-Year-Tax-Information-from-the-IRS

Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

The Wizard
Posts: 10922
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:45 pm
Location: Reading, MA

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by The Wizard » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:44 pm

OK, the best thing financially is to do a Mediated Divorce then.
But we'll need cooperation of both parties.
Otherwise, we're looking at big numbers for lawyers; I hesitate even to guess.
Could be $20,000, could be $50,000, EACH.
Whereas a mediated settlement could run $5000 total depending on where you live...
Attempted new signature...

User avatar
tom0153
Posts: 939
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:33 am
Location: Little Neck, NY

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by tom0153 » Mon Sep 23, 2013 7:52 pm

My best to you and your loved ones in coming to a satisfactory resolution here.

I find all of the suggested actions to be good ones (I am not a lawyer) but I also think that expertise is going to be helpful here, particularly where it can be suggested to other parties "well, the lawyer is indicating this or that," rather than "I believe you should ...." This would apply both to your relationship with your Mother as well as your Father. Sometimes, a lawyer will have to rely on an entire team to work through issues.

Dealing with such a tremendous loss and shock is often the kind of emotional jar that you want to be able to review with another kind of expert, a family therapist. Sometimes, that kind of family therapy dwindles to ongoing therapy to gain understanding and insight for just one person. The benefit to be derived, however it all starts out, is often sizable. Not all bereavement has to do with death ... one can consider that the sudden realization that a marriage is ended is very similar.

I too wonder about mental health stability in that your father's actions were unforeseen and so sudden. You might have some sense of how to proceed if you are able to join with your mother in the counseling. You might also get a sense with a good old father-son discussion on an adult level. However, since the actions seem to be poorly understood, some of the actions suggested which are immediate (but not irreversible in terms of repairing relationships) seem to be very good ideas.

A lawyer will often be an expert in the context of filing for a divorce, but not the mediation which must lead up to it, and sometimes, not the kind of "forensics" that must be used to uncover assets. So, a member of the team he assembles might include an accountant who is used to reviewing documents to see what hints of a complete financial picture can be assembled. Even if someone has blindsided their spouse and has had lots of time to move things around, can be convinced to deal fairly with the other spouse when the information is brought forward.

Ask how big the lawyer's team would be, and whether he would suggest this type of approach in your parent's situation.

I also point to some of the suggestions that you take care not to choose sides here, but rather, to make sure that both of your parents treat each other fairly so that your ongoing relationships are protected. Do you have any brothers or sisters?

I've just seen your later note, and it suggests that the forensic accountant might be helpful. There is a cost benefit here, where your time is worth something, and the value of hidden assets might be of interest. Consider, for example, that a split deposit of a paycheck may be going to an account that is not a joint account. If you were to use a mediator (and that might work, but I'm not getting that clear sense), you can still utilize the help of an accountant with good experience in this area. You can ask a lawyer who would advise your mother in other areas, who he/she might recommend for the forensics.

I am rooting for the best outcome.
Best, Tom

freebeer
Posts: 1885
Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 8:30 am
Location: Seattle area USA

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by freebeer » Mon Sep 23, 2013 11:35 pm

wilked wrote:A little more info...

He stated he wanted a divorce ~ 2ish years ago, moved out for a day, moved back in. Nothing was really settled though. Things have seemed back to normal, better than ever, even up to the previous day. So while it was out of the blue, it did have some warning in a sense. I highly doubt mental breakdown due to that.

I did call, straight to voicemail, phone is either off or discarded.

I highly doubt he has any plans to leave my mom high and dry financially, but then I would have told you I highly doubt he would leave his wife of almost 30 years with just a note. Everything is in both their names. She is on his health insurance. She is calling all bills, already spoke to HR, essentially following the advice of this thread, trying to sort things out.

The house is probably worth 3-4 years of his untaxed pension. Other known assets are the three vehicles (two cars and a m/c), savings accounts. A copy of the income taxes is a good idea, but perhaps not simple to find. I will have her check the computers for Turbo Tax files, etc


The key point here is that a de facto division of property where your Dad keeps a 75% pension and your Mom keeps house worth 3-4 years of same (so 1.5-2 years value for his 50% share of the house) plus meager retirement accounts in her own name would not in any sense be fair after a 30-year marriage. Of course different story if her retirement accounts turn out to have a NPV equivalent to the pension but that's highly unlikely given your description. That he left her "to the penny" half a savings account = 9 months expenses doesn't signify IMO and could have been an attempt to finesse the situation rather than a sign of good character, not to mention his having left her in the lurch and in the dark about their overall financial situation.

User avatar
frugaltype
Posts: 1952
Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2013 9:07 am

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by frugaltype » Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:21 am

tom0153 wrote:Dealing with such a tremendous loss and shock is often the kind of emotional jar that you want to be able to review with another kind of expert, a family therapist. Sometimes, that kind of family therapy dwindles to ongoing therapy to gain understanding and insight for just one person. The benefit to be derived, however it all starts out, is often sizable. Not all bereavement has to do with death ... one can consider that the sudden realization that a marriage is ended is very similar.


+1 I would say your Mom needs this kind of support. Whether family therapy would have a chance, I dunno.

Achelois
Posts: 118
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 12:50 pm

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by Achelois » Tue Sep 24, 2013 3:29 am

I would not encourage your mom to keep the de facto property division wherein she has the house and he has the pension. Women, for some reason, seem to want the house even when it is not necessarily in their best interest. If your mom has been traditional, she may lack the skills to do maintenance, she will have property taxes and homeowners insurance, etc as well. She may have to hire lawn maintenance, etc., very expensive.

If I were in her position, I would encourage the sale of the house and ask for all proceeds to be split, all retirements accts to be split, all pensions, etc. to be split down the middle., especially if her own retirement pension is negligible. Half of his pension amount is income for life.

User avatar
BolderBoy
Posts: 3278
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:16 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Father left my Mother Suddenly, Need advice

Post by BolderBoy » Tue Sep 24, 2013 10:05 am

Achelois wrote:If I were in her position, I would encourage the sale of the house and ask for all proceeds to be split, all retirements accts to be split, all pensions, etc. to be split down the middle., especially if her own retirement pension is negligible. Half of his pension amount is income for life.

+1

Starting fresh usually works out the best in the long run.

Post Reply