Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Post Reply
Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:26 pm

My dad just passed away after recent cancer diagnosis and I'm trying to put together a list of all of the things we need to take care of and any potential gotchas I should be looking out for. My mom is the stereotypical spouse that wasn't interested in financial affairs, but my dad was a frugal saver and investor who kept pretty good records. My siblings and I will basically have to do the heavy lifting on this one.

A quick overview of the situation as I currently understand it:
  1. Both of my parents in their mid 70's, on Medicare, and collecting their own Social Security benefit.
  2. Both of my parents have a pension with their former employer, but not sure about survivor benefit situation yet.
  3. Both of my parents have traditional IRAs and have been taking RMD's. My parents named each other as primary beneficiary and all of their children as contingent beneficiaries (total combined balance is less than $1m).
  4. No other investments, debt, life insurance, etc. to deal with.
  5. Own their home and car outright.
My to-do list as far as I know:
  1. I've started working on their 2017 tax returns, and my numbers pretty much match up with the estimates my dad did in January. One thing that is not clear to me is how to handle this when the taxpayer was alive for all of 2017, but died in 2018 before submitting tax returns. I also need to track down ~$10 in missing interest (probably from a local credit union) and a lack of a 1099-HC or similar form that I haven't come across yet.
  2. I am under the impression that the funeral director will contact Social Security and possibly Medicare. How do I find out about a possible survivor's benefit for my mom in addition to her individual Social Security benefit?
  3. Should we just roll my dad's IRA into my mom's, or are there other considerations? They both took their RMDs in 2017, but have no idea if that has to be handled in a different way for 2018 with an inherited IRA.
  4. Do we need to think about retitling the house and car? What if either may be sold within the next year?
  5. What other entities need to be notified about my dad's death?
  6. At what point (if ever) do we need to bring in an estate lawyer and/or accountant?
  7. What else am I missing? The is very new territory for all of us.
Thank's so much for any info!

DesertDiva
Posts: 697
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:49 pm
Location: In the desert

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by DesertDiva » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:33 pm

Condolences on your loss. Was there a will or a trust? Does someone have a Durable Power of Attorney for your mom? These are questions you need to determine early in the process and this will help you with direction from this point forward.

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:40 pm

DesertDiva wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:33 pm
Condolences on your loss. Was there a will or a trust? Does someone have a Durable Power of Attorney for your mom? These are questions you need to determine early in the process and this will help you with direction from this point forward.
Thank you, it still doesn't seem real at this point. :(

All good points above. There is a will, but no sign of a trust or Durable Power of Attorney so far (but I am working on it). I do know that they did not have a healthcare proxy and that the hospital was pushing them to do so.

Hillview
Posts: 382
Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:27 am

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Hillview » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:01 pm

So sorry for your loss, my father passed away a year ago. Get at least 8 death certificates (you need them for a bunch of stuff). We notified SS ourselves as I don't trust other people to do things. Get the car in her name, it was easy to do in Mass, the DMV/RMV had an easy set of paperwork to do but this is not an immediate need to do (think we had a month or more). I'd also get the house retitled. Notify insurance (car, home owners). Notify all banks (will need death certificate) and credit cards. Close any accounts your dad had (credit cards, gas cards, store cards) anything. Make sure your mom has a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy. Make sure to update your mom's documents to remove your father as the beneficiary of any of her assets.

User avatar
Duckie
Posts: 6998
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:55 pm
Location: California Bay Area

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Duckie » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:12 pm

Polaris wrote:I've started working on their 2017 tax returns, and my numbers pretty much match up with the estimates my dad did in January. One thing that is not clear to me is how to handle this when the taxpayer was alive for all of 2017, but died in 2018 before submitting tax returns.
She files joint returns for 2017 and 2018. At the top she writes "Deceased," her husband's name, and date of death. In the signature area she writes "Filing as surviving spouse" See Decedents. Plus see Publication 559 -- Survivors, Executors, and Administrators..
I am under the impression that the funeral director will contact Social Security and possibly Medicare.
The funeral director is supposed to contact Social Security which also covers Medicare.
How do I find out about a possible survivor's benefit for my mom in addition to her individual Social Security benefit?
For survivors benefits she has to contact Social Security. See here on page 6 "If you're already getting Social Security benefits". She should get the higher of his or her benefits. There's also a $255 one-time death payment (page 3 in above). Also see here. She may want to open a "my Social Security" online account.
Should we just roll my dad's IRA into my mom's, or are there other considerations? They both took their RMDs in 2017, but have no idea if that has to be handled in a different way for 2018 with an inherited IRA.
The best option is for her to have his IRA retitled in her name so it belongs to her. It won't be considered an "inherited IRA" and she'll use her RMDs, not his. (Except for 2018. This year will be his RMD which may have to be taken before retitling.) See Surviving spouse from Publication 590-B -- Distributions from IRAs. She needs to change her beneficiaries.
Do we need to think about retitling the house and car? What if either may be sold within the next year?
Retitle the house for sure, probably the car too. Get it all done now. Don't let things drag on.
What other entities need to be notified about my dad's death?
His pension needs to be notified. If he has any bank accounts or credit cards solely in his name they need to be closed. Hopefully she has credit cards in her name.
At what point (if ever) do we need to bring in an estate lawyer and/or accountant?
Based on what you wrote above, I see no need for an estate lawyer. If they didn't need an accountant before, she doesn't now.
What else am I missing?
Safe deposit box?

User avatar
dodecahedron
Posts: 4912
Joined: Tue Nov 12, 2013 12:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by dodecahedron » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:45 pm

Duckie wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:12 pm
Retitle the house for sure, probably the car too. Get it all done now. Don't let things drag on.
If house was jointly owned by OP's mom and dad as JTWROS, why bother retitling it?

My attorney told me not to bother, that the house was automatically 100% mine after my husband died and that all I would need to do if and when I want to sell is to provide a copy of the death certificate at that time.

On the other hand, you should get the house professionally appraised now because at least half of the cost basis steps up to the value at your father's date of death. (In community property states, there is a step up on 100% of the cost basis.)

I do agree car should be retitled, but may be no big hurry. In my state, surviving spouse can continue to drive until current registration expires. Call your auto insurance agent and have your dad taken off the policy as a driver, which should result in refund of some premium.

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:17 pm

Wow, lots of good info. I'm going to need some time to slog my way through this. Thank you all!

curmudgeon
Posts: 1939
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:00 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by curmudgeon » Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:27 pm

I think the key points have been listed. You will want to search out any and all accounts that are solely listed under your dads name, and work out the process for changing them. This can include things like utilities and such which can be a nuisance at some later point. Definitely check up on credit cards and make sure your mom has one in her name, not just as an additional card on dads account.

Sometime over the next year, you probably want to help with your mom work on her own estate planning. Now that she has lost her spouse, she will need to start thinking about what type of backups she might need if her own health or mental acuity starts to fail. Maybe it's time to have one of her kids as a co-signer on her accounts, for example. It's not something you need to talk about with her now, but keep it in mind for the future.

User avatar
mhadden1
Posts: 728
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:14 pm
Location: North Alabama

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by mhadden1 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:32 am

File life insurance claims - sometimes it can be a bit difficult to determine if any policies were in force.
Oh I can't, can I? That's what they said to Thomas Edison, mighty inventor, Thomas Lindberg, mighty flyer,and Thomas Shefsky, mighty like a rose.

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:24 am

They definitely did not have any life insurance. My Dad begrudgingly had term life when they needed it, but was not a fan when they were retired with no debt and enough assets to last them the rest of their lives. He told me a few years ago that they could live comfortably on their pensions and Social Security, and that their IRAs were the icing on the cake. That, of course, comes from a man who would have moths fly out of his wallet when he opened it. :D

stan1
Posts: 8011
Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2007 4:35 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by stan1 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:38 am

Sorry for your loss. It may not be much consolation but the government and corporate bureaucracies are well equipped to handle a death because it happens frequently. You won't be going through uncharted waters. One thing you'll need is many official copies of his death certificate from the county registrar/recorder. I'd get 20 to start which might cost you $100-200. You might find you need one for years to come. It needs to have the official county seal/stamp on it not something you've copied yourself. The official death certificate starts many of the processes you'll need to help your mom with over the next year.

NotWhoYouThink
Posts: 2804
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:52 am

Check both your mom and dad's pension situation. In our case, for example, if my husband dies I would get 50% of his pension, but also my pension payment would go up to the "single life annuity" level, rather than the current joint level.

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:24 am

stan1 wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:38 am
Sorry for your loss. It may not be much consolation but the government and corporate bureaucracies are well equipped to handle a death because it happens frequently. You won't be going through uncharted waters. One thing you'll need is many official copies of his death certificate from the county registrar/recorder. I'd get 20 to start which might cost you $100-200. You might find you need one for years to come. It needs to have the official county seal/stamp on it not something you've copied yourself. The official death certificate starts many of the processes you'll need to help your mom with over the next year.
Thank you. I mentioned a large number of death certificates to the funeral director and she looked at me like I had three heads. We'll be getting about 7-8 initially and I can easily order more online from city hall if we need them.

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:27 am

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:52 am
Check both your mom and dad's pension situation. In our case, for example, if my husband dies I would get 50% of his pension, but also my pension payment would go up to the "single life annuity" level, rather than the current joint level.
Yes, that's on the list. I have no idea how the beneficiary situation is set up, but my dad was so cautious its likely set up for the surviving spouse to receive the maximum possible benefit.

NotWhoYouThink
Posts: 2804
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:34 am

They may have set it up so that each would continue to receive 100% of the other's pension. Even so, the survivor's pension payment would probably go up, since it becomes a single life annuity at the spouse's death. But you have to notify the company and ask for it. In FIL's case, he did not do this, and it was discovered after his death that he should have, so the back payments were made to the estate.

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:39 am

Duckie wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:12 pm
Should we just roll my dad's IRA into my mom's, or are there other considerations? They both took their RMDs in 2017, but have no idea if that has to be handled in a different way for 2018 with an inherited IRA.
The best option is for her to have his IRA retitled in her name so it belongs to her. It won't be considered an "inherited IRA" and she'll use her RMDs, not his. (Except for 2018. This year will be his RMD which may have to be taken before retitling.) See Surviving spouse from Publication 590-B -- Distributions from IRAs. She needs to change her beneficiaries.
BTW, lots of good info on many of my questions in your response. I appreciate it.

What is the advantage to retitling it as opposed to rolling it over into her existing IRA? It would be simpler for her to end up with a single IRA, so would it be possible to combine her existing IRA and the retitled IRA in the future if we go that route? My parents have a local Fidelity rep that they've been dealing with in person, so whatever we do will likely be through him because that would make my mom feel more comfortable.

TSR
Posts: 837
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:08 am

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by TSR » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:50 am

Duckie wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:12 pm
Polaris wrote:I've started working on their 2017 tax returns, and my numbers pretty much match up with the estimates my dad did in January. One thing that is not clear to me is how to handle this when the taxpayer was alive for all of 2017, but died in 2018 before submitting tax returns.
She files joint returns for 2017 and 2018. At the top she writes "Deceased," her husband's name, and date of death. In the signature area she writes "Filing as surviving spouse" See Decedents. Plus see Publication 559 -- Survivors, Executors, and Administrators..
I am under the impression that the funeral director will contact Social Security and possibly Medicare.
The funeral director is supposed to contact Social Security which also covers Medicare.
How do I find out about a possible survivor's benefit for my mom in addition to her individual Social Security benefit?
For survivors benefits she has to contact Social Security. See here on page 6 "If you're already getting Social Security benefits". She should get the higher of his or her benefits. There's also a $255 one-time death payment (page 3 in above). Also see here. She may want to open a "my Social Security" online account.
Should we just roll my dad's IRA into my mom's, or are there other considerations? They both took their RMDs in 2017, but have no idea if that has to be handled in a different way for 2018 with an inherited IRA.
The best option is for her to have his IRA retitled in her name so it belongs to her. It won't be considered an "inherited IRA" and she'll use her RMDs, not his. (Except for 2018. This year will be his RMD which may have to be taken before retitling.) See Surviving spouse from Publication 590-B -- Distributions from IRAs. She needs to change her beneficiaries.
Do we need to think about retitling the house and car? What if either may be sold within the next year?
Retitle the house for sure, probably the car too. Get it all done now. Don't let things drag on.
What other entities need to be notified about my dad's death?
His pension needs to be notified. If he has any bank accounts or credit cards solely in his name they need to be closed. Hopefully she has credit cards in her name.
At what point (if ever) do we need to bring in an estate lawyer and/or accountant?
Based on what you wrote above, I see no need for an estate lawyer. If they didn't need an accountant before, she doesn't now.
What else am I missing?
Safe deposit box?
My comment may be non-responsive, but I just wanted to commend this post for being one of the most helpful I've seen on this site (a high bar). What a great community. Condolences on OP's loss.

curmudgeon
Posts: 1939
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:00 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by curmudgeon » Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:33 pm

Polaris wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:24 am
stan1 wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:38 am
Sorry for your loss. It may not be much consolation but the government and corporate bureaucracies are well equipped to handle a death because it happens frequently. You won't be going through uncharted waters. One thing you'll need is many official copies of his death certificate from the county registrar/recorder. I'd get 20 to start which might cost you $100-200. You might find you need one for years to come. It needs to have the official county seal/stamp on it not something you've copied yourself. The official death certificate starts many of the processes you'll need to help your mom with over the next year.
Thank you. I mentioned a large number of death certificates to the funeral director and she looked at me like I had three heads. We'll be getting about 7-8 initially and I can easily order more online from city hall if we need them.
Most places have gotten better about just copying the death certificate and giving it back to you. The issue is more likely to come up if you had someone with accounts scattered in a bunch of online banks or an active business. I suspect you may not end up needing more than 3-4, but a few extra doesn't hurt.

User avatar
mhadden1
Posts: 728
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2014 8:14 pm
Location: North Alabama

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by mhadden1 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:28 pm

curmudgeon wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 12:33 pm
Most places have gotten better about just copying the death certificate and giving it back to you.
That was my experience too, in the last few years, when helping with paperwork after deaths.

Never hurts to clarify, in the service of conserving death certificates - sometimes people ask for a DC, and it turns out when you ask, that a copy will do.
Oh I can't, can I? That's what they said to Thomas Edison, mighty inventor, Thomas Lindberg, mighty flyer,and Thomas Shefsky, mighty like a rose.

User avatar
Duckie
Posts: 6998
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:55 pm
Location: California Bay Area

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Duckie » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:07 pm

Polaris wrote:
Duckie wrote:The best option is for her to have his IRA retitled in her name so it belongs to her.
What is the advantage to retitling it as opposed to rolling it over into her existing IRA?
She can roll it over after it's retitled in her name. (And that 2018 RMD may have to come out first.)

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:09 pm

Duckie wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:07 pm
Polaris wrote:
Duckie wrote:The best option is for her to have his IRA retitled in her name so it belongs to her.
What is the advantage to retitling it as opposed to rolling it over into her existing IRA?
She can roll it over after it's retitled in her name. (And that 2018 RMD may have to come out first.)
Thanks, I wonder if Fidelity can help us sort that out.

User avatar
Duckie
Posts: 6998
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:55 pm
Location: California Bay Area

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Duckie » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:14 pm

Polaris wrote:I wonder if Fidelity can help us sort that out.
They can.

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:36 pm

Duckie wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:14 pm
Polaris wrote:I wonder if Fidelity can help us sort that out.
They can.
That would be great. My parents have a Fidelity rep that they would occasionally meet in person, so my mom would be comfortable with that. My brother and I will be attending that meeting with her.

I also figured out that my parents had their pensions set up so that the survivor would get 50% of the deceased spouse's benefit. I'm sure that was the most conservative option knowing my dad. :D

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22912
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by dm200 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:02 pm

The "original" copies of death certificates (with the seal) are expensive - so try to satisfy the accounts/investment places by showing them one of the "original" copies - then just keep a photocopy for their records.

You will probably need an attorney for at least a few items. Pay such an attorney just for the things (and time expended) necessary.

Double check the pension survivor benefits to make sure she gets what she should (if any). Errors are unlikely, but could happen.

Do not just pay his individual, personal debts unless and until the assets, etc. get straightened out.

She may, at some point, want/need to review her will.

While not directly related, she might want to review and/or change some Medicare "choices" if her location or other situations change. Before the next open enrollment window, in the fall I think, evaluate Medicare Advantage plans in your area, supplements if on Original Medicare and drug plan. Note that most (but not all) Medicare Advantage plans include drug coverage. These changes in her life might mean she may need to change medical providers - so consider the whole situation. In our area, unfortunately as an example, a high portion of primary care physicians will not accept new Medicare patients.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22912
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by dm200 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:08 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:34 am
They may have set it up so that each would continue to receive 100% of the other's pension. Even so, the survivor's pension payment would probably go up, since it becomes a single life annuity at the spouse's death. But you have to notify the company and ask for it. In FIL's case, he did not do this, and it was discovered after his death that he should have, so the back payments were made to the estate.
Unless I am missing something, I do not see this as correct.

I was "vested" in two defined benefit pension plans from two different previous (private company) employers with about 10 years at each. My payments are the same for life (no cost of living). When I filed (or before, cannot remember) I had several choices. I cannot remember exactly, but the ranged from zero to my wife after my dying first (she would have tp consent) to her getting 50% to her getting 100%. The more she would get, the less I received. I believe I selected 100%. So, for example, if my monthly pension is $500 per month - and I die before my wife - there is no recalculation, etc. She just will get $500 per month for her life.

Texgal17
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:51 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Texgal17 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:38 pm

Polaris wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:40 pm
DesertDiva wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:33 pm
Condolences on your loss. Was there a will or a trust? Does someone have a Durable Power of Attorney for your mom? These are questions you need to determine early in the process and this will help you with direction from this point forward.
Thank you, it still doesn't seem real at this point. :(

All good points above. There is a will, but no sign of a trust or Durable Power of Attorney so far (but I am working on it). I do know that they did not have a healthcare proxy and that the hospital was pushing them to do so.
I know exactly what you’re going through. My dear mother (a widow with a longtime SO, with separate homes) passed in August last year and I became the point (wo)man to deal with everything. Luckily my mom was on top of things and had everything spelled out for us as far as her wishes and investments. The funeral home got us the death certificates for a fee as part of the package (she was cremated per her wishes) we requested, about 20 I think.
I have about 5 left. I notified all her creditors to close accounts. Luckily she had no debt other than monthly bills. And she had also put one daughter on her bank account so it went to her after mom passed and we paid bills from that account as they came in. As mail came in we found other things that needed to be canceled.
Her house sold rather quickly by November so no capital gains. All in all not too complicated and we didn’t need to go through probate as everything went to beneficiary’s and the house had a life estate deed to her children. And all of us were on the same page, thankfully!! My condolences to you and your family in this trying time. And 6 months later it still hurts....

NotWhoYouThink
Posts: 2804
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:48 pm

dm200 wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:08 pm
NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:34 am
They may have set it up so that each would continue to receive 100% of the other's pension. Even so, the survivor's pension payment would probably go up, since it becomes a single life annuity at the spouse's death. But you have to notify the company and ask for it. In FIL's case, he did not do this, and it was discovered after his death that he should have, so the back payments were made to the estate.
Unless I am missing something, I do not see this as correct.

I was "vested" in two defined benefit pension plans from two different previous (private company) employers with about 10 years at each. My payments are the same for life (no cost of living). When I filed (or before, cannot remember) I had several choices. I cannot remember exactly, but the ranged from zero to my wife after my dying first (she would have tp consent) to her getting 50% to her getting 100%. The more she would get, the less I received. I believe I selected 100%. So, for example, if my monthly pension is $500 per month - and I die before my wife - there is no recalculation, etc. She just will get $500 per month for her life.
Not all pension plans are set up the same way. You have to read the plan, or at least ask the company providing the pension.

Maybe I did not make myself clear about the "pop up" or "spring back" condition.

My husband and I have pensions from the same Megacorp.
If I die first, he continues to get 100% of the pension I've been getting, but his pension payment goes up, because the plan no longer has to worry about payments to a survivor after his death. It will go up to the level it would have been if he had chosen (and I had approved) zero survivor benefits for me. But that's just for future payments after my death, he doesn't get any retroactive benefit.

If he dies first, I get 50% of the pension he had been getting, but my pension goes up to the level it would have been if I had chosen (and he had approved) zero survivor benefits for him.

There are more moving parts for us, so the 50 vs. 100% decision makes sense in the big picture.

Topic Author
Polaris
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:28 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by Polaris » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:03 pm

My brother and I actually got their 2017 returns filed today, and I was thankful that the numbers matched what I came up with when doing them by hand. We had to correct a couple of errors for the death certificate, so hopefully that'll get straightened out and we'll get them soon. We still have to finalize the burial plot, obituary, etc., so my mom hasn't been terribly interested in the financial stuff, but we're going to keep working on her.

The odd thing is, this is the type of thing I normally would have discussed with my dad. I'm going to miss talking with him about investments, managing money, and the like. :(

NotWhoYouThink
Posts: 2804
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:19 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:57 pm

The odd thing is, this is the type of thing I normally would have discussed with my dad. I'm going to miss talking with him about investments, managing money, and the like. :(
Yes, after 20 years I still sometimes find myself planning to talk some subject over with my dad. Sort of a comforting reminder now.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 22912
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by dm200 » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:07 pm

Not all pension plans are set up the same way. You have to read the plan, or at least ask the company providing the pension.
Maybe I did not make myself clear about the "pop up" or "spring back" condition.
My husband and I have pensions from the same Megacorp.
If I die first, he continues to get 100% of the pension I've been getting, but his pension payment goes up, because the plan no longer has to worry about payments to a survivor after his death. It will go up to the level it would have been if he had chosen (and I had approved) zero survivor benefits for me. But that's just for future payments after my death, he doesn't get any retroactive benefit.
If he dies first, I get 50% of the pension he had been getting, but my pension goes up to the level it would have been if I had chosen (and he had approved) zero survivor benefits for him.
Yes - all depends on details and/or choices made by participants. I know that my pension benefits will not change if my wife predeceases me.

ThriftyisFun
Posts: 18
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 1:20 pm

Re: Advice for helping my newly-widowed mom

Post by ThriftyisFun » Fri Mar 09, 2018 5:46 pm

So sorry to hear about your loss.

I lost my Mom several years ago. I feel for you and your Mom.

Several resources I found helpful as helping be executor:

- "The Executor's Guide - Settling a Loved One's Estate or Trust" by Nolo. Got a copy of book from my local library and ended up buying it.

- Jonathan Pond Executor Checklist - 3 page checklist free on the internet via pdf. It is one of the most comprehensive checklists I found to help me as a first time executor. Use search on Google with that in the title and pdf. Should come right up.

- Notify all three credit bureaus of your father's death (you will need to send copy of death certificate and proof that you are executor/personal representative).

(a) Ask that they post on his credit report "Deceased - Do not issue credit"
(b) Ask for a copy of his credit report.

I read somewhere that 25% of identity theft is of deceased persons. When you get the credit report, it will also show you what credit your father has. Read closely.
This can be really helpful as you work with your Mom to close down or update account ownership.

When our Mom's credit report finally came, we learned a credit card I explicitly asked to be closed 6 months earlier was still open. We called the credit card company and they explained that they had not been able to verify our mom's death from other sources (this was 9 months after her death!). Hhhmmmm. We ended up sending them a copy of the death certificate in order to get the account closed (something you generally should Not need to do).

Again, so sorry for your loss. Your Mom is blessed to have you help her at this time.

On a personal note, www.Griefshare.org has been a Very helpful resource for me as I have been grieving/missing my Mom.

Note: I am new to the forum and this is my first post. I would have provided links to the items I referenced, but haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.

Post Reply