Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

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JoeRetire
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by JoeRetire »

stanford73 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:04 pm I already claimed my SS at 62, and using "file and suspend", DH filed at 66 and is delaying taking benefits until 70 to max out his benefit. We also filed for spousal benefits on my record, so he is getting roughly $500 per month now.

His FRA benefit amount is $2400 I think and $3500 at 70. I know there is some formula to figure out what a divorcing spouse gets, but I don't think I'd come out ahead. I just don't know. Need to research that and thanks for the link. I'm worried at 68 to take the leap off the mountain with no safety net and the real possibility of health issues.
You are worried and you are making assumptions.

You need professional help, not random internet help.
You should be working with a good attorney, perhaps with a good accountant, and likely with a good financial planner.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
theplayer11
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by theplayer11 »

minimalistmarc wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:52 am It’s personal but my wife would divorce me if I did this and hid it from her
that's extreme imo. No way my wife would, she would be disappointed of course.
Startingover2019
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by Startingover2019 »

stanford73 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:04 pm
delamer wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:36 pm
You need to get better information regarding Social Security benefits and other issues, because you are using bad assumptions to drive your decisions.

You would be entitled to half of your husband’s benefit at his FRA, not just your benefit: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html

So more in the way of $1500/month than $945 (based on what you said earlier). So income of around $1800/month total, or $22,000/year, from SS and the annuity.

And that’s at a minimum, if you aren’t awarded part of his benefit in divorce proceedings.

There are other issues like whether you are responsible for his credit card debt or his tax debt (as an innocent spouse) that an attorney could help you with. Plus an attorney could flush out any hidden assets or debts.

I think that you’d end up with at least $400,000 even if all the debt is paid off from your assets. That would give you $16,000/year in income.

Leaving a total (minimum) income of roughly $38,000/year. Not a princely sum, but doable, if you can contain your housing costs. And if you worked part-time for a few more years making even $20,000 that would make a difference.

I don’t intend to minimize your concerns and none of this is easy. But given your husband’s history, do you want to spend your retirement waiting for the next financial crisis?
I already claimed my SS at 62, and using "file and suspend", DH filed at 66 and is delaying taking benefits until 70 to max out his benefit. We also filed for spousal benefits on my record, so he is getting roughly $500 per month now.

His FRA benefit amount is $2400 I think and $3500 at 70. I know there is some formula to figure out what a divorcing spouse gets, but I don't think I'd come out ahead. I just don't know. Need to research that and thanks for the link. I'm worried at 68 to take the leap off the mountain with no safety net and the real possibility of health issues.
Please clarify. Is he getting $500 a month of SSI based on your income and benefits? As in because he is married to you he gets spousal SSI?

If so, that is another red flag, considering he seems to be the one who’s made the most money.

After reading all this, I’m so glad I got divorced. I had a husband who refused to work and basically lived off me and refused to go on a budget. I can’t imagine being in my 60s and dealing with that mess.

I think in the situation you need to be frank and open with your children. They may be able to help you.

Lastly, stop playing victim like someone else has said, and take control of the finances. Stop putting up roadblocks before even starting the engine. If you are unwilling to do that, or if he won’t let you, I would suggest you scramble. It won’t get better without you at the helm.
stoptothink
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by stoptothink »

This is shockingly like my in-laws situation, except my in-laws have exactly $0 in savings (in retirement or otherwise). Imagine MIL (who has never worked a day in her life) thinking student loans (from nearly 30 years ago) were all paid off, when in reality they were now in excess of $300k+ and FIL (mid 60's) has had a difficult time keeping a job the last decade. Their situation is magnitudes worse and we've had to step in.
delamer
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by delamer »

celia wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:06 pm Here’s another tool for you to use. You should insist that you open all mail for the next 6 months because there are likely more unknowns ahead. To prevent DH from pulling out select pieces of mail, have all joint mail forwarded to a P O box that you control. You can let it pile up for a week there without worrying about having to go thru all the mail every day.

An added benefit is that junk mail (below-rate postage, such as for bulk mail/ads) won’t be forwarded to there, so it will be easier to toss right away when it comes to the house.


You also need to find out what interest rate the IRS and HELOC are charging you, so you know which is the most important to pay off first with extra payments. If you aren’t paying anything on the HELOC, that loan is growing and your house will be in danger of being lost. If you want to get some equity from it when you sell, you need to have some equity left!
I have a friend whose husband opened a PO box so he could have his credit card statements sent where she wouldn’t have access to them.

It is shocking what one spouse can and will do to hide information/assets.
delamer
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by delamer »

theplayer11 wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:10 am
minimalistmarc wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:52 am It’s personal but my wife would divorce me if I did this and hid it from her
that's extreme imo. No way my wife would, she would be disappointed of course.
Nothing extreme about it.

Mismanagement is bad enough, but he hid information and reneged on their agreement to use the the HELOC for emergencies only.
hulburt1
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by hulburt1 »

You can go and get it written up that you are not responsible for any of his debt. then get a separation and do separate tax's.
Freeze everything. Basically you can be roommates.
bayview
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by bayview »

stanford73 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:34 pm I agree I need to stop the "digging" of an even deeper hole, but I don't know how just yet. Getting my DH to even speak about finances--at least the difficult stuff--is challenging and very stressful. But, I realize I need to find a way, even if that means getting a professional involved. Downsizing to a more affordable area might be the best solution that solves the debt issues.

Thank you for your advice and kind words.
Have you pulled your own credit yet? You need to find out where YOU stand before taking on what's happening with your husband's finances and credit.

Go here and pull all three. This is the for-real, legitimate source:
https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action
Ignore any ads for credit monitoring that might pop up.

The moment that you have pulled your three reports, freeze all three. Keep the password used to unfreeze them somewhere that only you can retrieve it, not in some family list of passwords.

Are you on the IRS debt? Has a lien been placed? Presumably you are on the HELOC, and it appears on your reports. Are there any other surprises, second mortgage, etc.?

This is Saturday morning. Do this today. You can take on the other stuff if and when you feel capable.
stanford73 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:19 pm That was the reason for the bi-monthly financial sit downs we did for a few years. I doubt he'll be open to me taking over the finances. I'm in the position of "not knowing what I don't know" about financial matters. DH is reckless, but I'm in over my head. I don't know what questions to ask, which is why I came here. Now I know more than I did yesterday thanks to the very knowledgeable, wise and kind people here.
The highlighted statement is huge. He lost his vote on this topic years ago. You don't need his permission at this point.
Last edited by bayview on Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:24 am, edited 2 times in total.
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whodidntante
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by whodidntante »

I'm sorry this happened to you. I'm not trying to blame you, but if this happened to me, "days of trust" when it comes to money would be over with. I would have a keen interest in the family finances and would insist on making major financial decisions together 100% of the time. And if I didn't believe transparency were possible, I would strongly consider living my own life independent of this person. It will be a reduced lifestyle (possibly) but a predictable and secure one. Staying with a person who squanders modest resources and hides it is no security at all.
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8foot7
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by 8foot7 »

Frankly it seems there are two questions here, and only two:
1. Is your husband willing to put you in exclusive control of finances and go on a cash allowance provided by you?
2. If he is not willing to do so, are you willing to leave him?

All of the rest is noise, quite honestly. You don't need a financial planner, or an accountant, or even an attorney at this point. You need a stiff drink and to throw your shoulders back and confront this.

Your staying in this marriage needs to come attached at the hip with your complete control of finances and him with a cash allowance or a prepaid debit card, the amount of which could be up for discussion.

If he won't work with you and you won't leave him, then you have no power or leverage. You can't just will a grown man to stop or start doing something he doesn't want to do. If you won't walk out the door if he doesn't do what you demand, then you have made a decision that you approve of what he does to the extent that you are willing to live with it for the rest of your life. This also means you are no longer an innocent spouse.

If he's willing to cede control of his financial decisions to you, then this problem is eminently solvable and frankly it wouldn't take too much effort to do so. You can remain married, not lose over half of what you already have to divorce, fix your financial situation in a year, and use this as a growing moment for both of you and your relationship. But you have to be willing to demand this, and you have to willing to say, "If you do not do this, I'm filing for divorce."

I agree with your general sentiment, OP, that provided your husband puts you in control, a divorce would be a poor decision.

And yes, before you do this, you need to clean out your joint accounts and make sure he's cut off from any and all access to funds in your name. You can't ethically redirect his own SS payment but you don't have to give him access to yours, or any other money in a joint account.

Assuming your husband is willing to give up and put you in control, I disagree with other posters about having endless come-to-Jesus meetings about what happened. At your ages, it quite frankly doesn't really matter where the money went, unless there's a $80,000 boat in dry dock somewhere. I guarantee you your husband is embarrassed, whether he admits it to you or not. Relentlessly rubbing his nose in recreating receipts on his bad decisions is not furthering your cause. It's not productive. The fixes to whatever caused this problem--freezing credit, cash allowance, all money now comes to you for doling out, etc.--are the same regardless of what happened and how he wasted the money. If he gambles, he can only gamble his cash. If he has a mistress, they're not attracted to 70 year old men on cash allowances from their wives. If he's just poor with money, he can only do the amount of damage as cash in his pocket. And since there is no "new money" coming in, he's retired and older, there's nothing to "heal" or "fix." He's not going on to a well-paying career and managing substantial new earnings. The ship has sailed. The barn door is shut. You have what you have. So I'd encourage you to just to uncover each and every penny of assets and debt you currently have, and then just work your way forward.
ohai
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by ohai »

1) I don't think OP is looking to divorce husband after 40+ years of marriage. To be fair, he hasn't screwed up THAT badly. They still have almost $1 million net worth, and he earned most of it. They just have... a little bit less than she thought.

2) OP said she is not as knowledgeable as her husband in finances. That doesn't matter, because it is clear what husband did wrong and he needs someone to enforce discipline, not add complicated knowledge.

3) If OP is not confident in financial planning, then get the three kids to help. Outside perspective will help enforce your financial plan, and kids have a stake in your financial future. You don't have to write the full story like here; just say, here are the financial facts: assets/debt. What are the logical steps? It might even have been a good thing to do if the husband didn't have this debt issue.
bltn
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by bltn »

At 68 yo he isn t going to change. At least not for the better, as he develops decreased mental capacity. He s financially irresponsible.

You must take total control of the finances. Also increasing your employment would be a good idea financially. Decrease your budget, and save some additional money. Realize that when you retire, selling the house will probably be necessary.

If divorce is your best bet for security, realize that you will need to continue work and saving for a few years. You seem to be a person capable of taking care of yourself. You can t afford to get torpedoed in the future by an unreliable spouse.
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HomerJ
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by HomerJ »

8foot7 wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:20 amIs your husband willing to put you in exclusive control of finances and go on a cash allowance provided by you?
She doesn't need to be in total control.

They just need to be a total team (and she can sell that a lot easier)

She needs access to all accounts and all passwords, and she can watch the money.

There's no need to put him on an "allowance"... She just needs to be an equal partner. That's fair, and he should agree to that.

If she can see all the accounts, and watch the money coming in and money going out, the problem should be solved.

I agree there's no point in asking over and over where the money went.

Look forward, not backwards.
A Goldman Sachs associate provided a variety of detailed explanations, but then offered a caveat, “If I’m being dead-### honest, though, nobody knows what’s really going on.”
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gr7070
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by gr7070 »

stanford73 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:34 pm Downsizing to a more affordable area might be the best solution that solves the debt issues.
One thing we know for sure about those who are significant overspenders: this would only be a temporary solution to the debt.

A sudden realization of funds to pay off debt (essentially) never solves the problem only the symptom. The debt will reappear, with near certainty; unless change is made with significant effort and sacrifice from both parties.

I very much like the opening mail suggestion! That's a classic, *significant* area that spouses or business partners, etc. find themselves in situations like this - which is exactly how the OP learned if the issue
delamer
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by delamer »

HomerJ wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 1:15 pm
8foot7 wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:20 amIs your husband willing to put you in exclusive control of finances and go on a cash allowance provided by you?
She doesn't need to be in total control.

They just need to be a total team (and she can sell that a lot easier)

She needs access to all accounts and all passwords, and she can watch the money.

There's no need to put him on an "allowance"... She just needs to be an equal partner. That's fair, and he should agree to that.

If she can see all the accounts, and watch the money coming in and money going out, the problem should be solved.

I agree there's no point in asking over and over where the money went.

Look forward, not backwards.
The problem is that if her husband takes $1,000 cash out of their joint account to gamble, buy liquor/drugs, go on a trip, support a mistress, or even donate to charity, the money’s gone.

Finding out about an expenditure after-the-fact is of no value if the money can’t be recovered. Even an hour’s delay may be too late to prevent a loss.
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celia
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by celia »

ohai wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:28 am 3) If OP is not confident in financial planning, then get the three kids to help. Outside perspective will help enforce your financial plan, and kids have a stake in your financial future. You don't have to write the full story like here; just say, here are the financial facts: assets/debt. What are the logical steps? It might even have been a good thing to do if the husband didn't have this debt issue.
Getting one of your kids to help you is a good idea because you should preparing for the day one or both of you are unable to manage your own finances. Approach the budget as you are trying to get it balanced. You would start with your actual income and expenses for the last 3 months and anything that is only paid yearly (property taxes, insurance, tbd). Alternately, when you know how much you spend in each category, you could post it here and we can suggest where cuts should be made based on percentage of the budget. For example, if 25% of the budget is for food, that is too much you are spending on food (unless there were business dinners involved).

I see this situation as partly a typical "let hubby pay the bills" situation. Since men tend to die earlier, many widows are surprised when they find out what the spending and assets are. In a way, you are lucky, since you've learned about the family finances earlier than if you were a widow. You have time to make some changes, which will help your later retirement, especially if you outlive him by many years.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by JoeRetire »

ohai wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:28 am 1) I don't think OP is looking to divorce husband after 40+ years of marriage. To be fair, he hasn't screwed up THAT badly.
With all due respect, we each get to decide how badly is badly enough. For me, if there is no trust left, there's nothing worth saving. Your mileage may vary.
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by LilyFleur »

1. He is not going to change.

2. Minimally, try to discover more about your finances (this will be valuable whether you stay in the marriage or choose to divorce). Make copies of everything and keep it at a friend's house. Does he keep paperwork in his trunk? One night I found a hidden briefcase and discovered much about the finances of my former spouse in our former marriage. If he has a P.O. Box, most likely he is hiding the paperwork he receives.

3. Go to the Social Security office. Get an estimate in writing for collecting on your husband's SS in the case of a divorce.

4. No doubt you have an emotional connection to your home--you raised your children there. But, also consider the happiness available to you as a divorced woman in a smaller home or condo in which you know your finances and can manage without worrying what your spouse is concealing from you.
delamer
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by delamer »

Startingover2019 wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:40 am
stanford73 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:04 pm
delamer wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:36 pm
You need to get better information regarding Social Security benefits and other issues, because you are using bad assumptions to drive your decisions.

You would be entitled to half of your husband’s benefit at his FRA, not just your benefit: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/divspouse.html

So more in the way of $1500/month than $945 (based on what you said earlier). So income of around $1800/month total, or $22,000/year, from SS and the annuity.

And that’s at a minimum, if you aren’t awarded part of his benefit in divorce proceedings.

There are other issues like whether you are responsible for his credit card debt or his tax debt (as an innocent spouse) that an attorney could help you with. Plus an attorney could flush out any hidden assets or debts.

I think that you’d end up with at least $400,000 even if all the debt is paid off from your assets. That would give you $16,000/year in income.

Leaving a total (minimum) income of roughly $38,000/year. Not a princely sum, but doable, if you can contain your housing costs. And if you worked part-time for a few more years making even $20,000 that would make a difference.

I don’t intend to minimize your concerns and none of this is easy. But given your husband’s history, do you want to spend your retirement waiting for the next financial crisis?
I already claimed my SS at 62, and using "file and suspend", DH filed at 66 and is delaying taking benefits until 70 to max out his benefit. We also filed for spousal benefits on my record, so he is getting roughly $500 per month now.

His FRA benefit amount is $2400 I think and $3500 at 70. I know there is some formula to figure out what a divorcing spouse gets, but I don't think I'd come out ahead. I just don't know. Need to research that and thanks for the link. I'm worried at 68 to take the leap off the mountain with no safety net and the real possibility of health issues.
Please clarify. Is he getting $500 a month of SSI based on your income and benefits? As in because he is married to you he gets spousal SSI?

If so, that is another red flag, considering he seems to be the one who’s made the most money.
This is a perfectly legitimate Social Security claiming strategy that maximizes benefits for both spouses. Once he reaches 70, they’ll both get a huge bump up in benefits based on his record.

It actually shows a certain level of sophistication on his part for someone who has messed up other aspects of their financial life so royally.
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

"My SS is $945 per month, plus an annuity of $320. How could I possibly live on that amount of money? Division of the assets (minus debts) would net me maybe $350k. "

There is 600k equity in the house. And he has 400k in retirement accounts.

At least where I live, if you divorced, you'd get half of that.

You can still get spousal SS even if you divorce.

I think you need to stop thinking that you can't live without him. You maybe without what you term a "safety net" but staying with him is like having a loaded gun at your head.

I'm curious what HIS financial plan is, going forward?
Do you really think he is going to stick around for you when you become ill and feeble?

If he truly spent nothing on himself and all of this debt ( 80k HELOC, 20K CC and remaining 40k of IRS) then you are both living beyond your means. You are paying for education, clothes and your car.

What IS he paying for? Are you guys eating out every night? Is the property expensive to maintain (lawn, pool, housekeepers?)
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
drawpoker
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by drawpoker »

delamer wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:58 pm
.......perfectly legitimate Social Security claiming strategy that maximizes benefits for both spouses. Once he reaches 70, they’ll both get a huge bump up in benefits based on his record......It actually shows a certain level of sophistication on his part for someone who has messed up other aspects of their financial life so royally.
Don't heap any praise on him. Not for this. Please.

Anyone having reading comprehension at 9th grade level would easily know about the file and suspend strategy before it was outlawed. Being blared out in all media on almost-constant basis in advance of its official demise.

He doesn't deserve any gold stars.
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gr7070
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by gr7070 »

Not to be mean, but to make sure the OP is fully cognisant of; financially this isn't just about 120k of debt. It's that debt, plus a few years of very high earnings without paying taxes, plus who knows...

So the high earnings spent, and the non payment of taxes spent. 250k income one year; say, 100k taxes, plus maybe 50 spent. 150k income another year; 50k minimum spent.

$350,000 minimum spent on something; but on nothing the OP has ever seen. There's a bigger skeleton here, somewhere, under that pile of money.

Really wish the OP the best! Regardless of where this takes them.
delamer
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by delamer »

drawpoker wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:13 pm
delamer wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:58 pm
.......perfectly legitimate Social Security claiming strategy that maximizes benefits for both spouses. Once he reaches 70, they’ll both get a huge bump up in benefits based on his record......It actually shows a certain level of sophistication on his part for someone who has messed up other aspects of their financial life so royally.
Don't heap any praise on him. Not for this. Please.

Anyone having reading comprehension at 9th grade level would easily know about the file and suspend strategy before it was outlawed. Being blared out in all media on almost-constant basis in advance of its official demise.

He doesn't deserve any gold stars.
I hardly think noting “a certain level of sophistication” is “heaping praise.”

If you don’t peruse personal finance media — which I’d guess 95% of the population does not do — it would be easy option to miss. And 95% of the population over age 50 probably would not be able to describe that option.

Plus it wasn’t outlawed; it just isn’t available if you are under a certain age.
Billionaire
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by Billionaire »

Kudos to the OP for continuing to refer to her spouse as DH.
drawpoker
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by drawpoker »

delamer wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:24 pm
Plus it wasn’t outlawed; it just isn’t available if you are under a certain age.
To clarify ----

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fi ... uspend.asp
finite_difference
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by finite_difference »

HomerJ wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:27 pm You guys just need to sell the house, and move to a cheaper area. Both of you get to retire as soon as you move (That's how you sell it to him)

And we're not talking that much down-sizing. You have $520k equity in the house (after paying off the HELOC). Go buy a $500k house somewhere else for cash. $500k buys a very nice house in most of the country. Check out some active retirement communities maybe. Place to meet new friends.

You'll have no mortgage, lower property taxes, cheaper insurance, etc. Pay off the IRS and credit cards (from his accounts), and you'll still have $450,000 in retirement accounts

With no mortgage, $50,000 a year in Social Security and another $18,000 a year from your investments (pulling 4% from the $450,000), you guys will be fine.

Two people with no mortgage can live VERY well on $68,000 a year.

Start tracking your spending. Don't say you're doing it to watchdog his spending, do it to get an accurate idea of how much you need in retirement.

With no mortgage, no credit card payments, no more college tuition bills, and you have Medicare, $68,000 a year should be plenty.

Food and utilities just don't cost that much. You should easily cover all your base needs, and have a thousand or two left over every month for fun.
+1. Except I would try to buy a $350k house in a LCOL. Keep working PT and take control over all the finances. Your husband can help as a Senior Accountant but you should be the CFO.
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KESP
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by KESP »

I disagree with the comment she doesn’t need an attorney. I would get one to advise me how to position myself to not lose more money. I know people who were married to a person who rang up debt without their knowledge and since they filed income taxes together etc. it was the person who had a job who ended up paying the debt after the divorce. Maybe they had a bad attorney, but they were on the hook for it. Absolutely run a credit check on both of you. I’m a woman and I don’t care how long I was married, once trust is gone, I’d be out the door.
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

KESP wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:35 pm I disagree with the comment she doesn’t need an attorney. I would get one to advise me how to position myself to not lose more money. I know people who were married to a person who rang up debt without their knowledge and since they filed income taxes together etc. it was the person who had a job who ended up paying the debt after the divorce. Maybe they had a bad attorney, but they were on the hook for it. Absolutely run a credit check on both of you. I’m a woman and I don’t care how long I was married, once trust is gone, I’d be out the door.
+1000

She's consulted an attorney before. And ignored the advice she was given.

Going it on her own might feel like she's without a safety net, but sticking with this guy is like having a gun pointed at her head. She has NO idea what he's up to.
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."
delamer
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by delamer »

drawpoker wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 5:03 pm
delamer wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 4:24 pm
Plus it wasn’t outlawed; it just isn’t available if you are under a certain age.
To clarify ----

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fi ... uspend.asp
The OP and her husband appear to have used the restricted application, not file and suspend.

The restricted application is available to those born on January 1, 1954 or earlier. So again, not outlawed.
drawpoker
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by drawpoker »

delamer wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:10 pm
The OP and her husband appear to have used the restricted application, not file and suspend.....

Not according to her post.

"I already claimed my SS at 62, and using "file and suspend", DH filed at 66 and is delaying taking benefits until 70 to max out his benefit........"
Startingover2019
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by Startingover2019 »

So how come OP seems clueless that she can get SSI from him if he’s getting it from her? I am confused.
clip651
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by clip651 »

stanford73 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:19 pm
greg24 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:05 pm
stanford73 wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 12:49 pmIn full disclosure, I've left the finances up to him--it's not my strong suit and he has an MBA--so I assumed all was being handled.
Finances and running a household aren't difficult. Its mostly simple math and keeping tracks of things.

An MBA doesn't really provide much finance education.

You could easily take over the finances.
That was the reason for the bi-monthly financial sit downs we did for a few years. I doubt he'll be open to me taking over the finances. I'm in the position of "not knowing what I don't know" about financial matters. DH is reckless, but I'm in over my head. I don't know what questions to ask, which is why I came here. Now I know more than I did yesterday thanks to the very knowledgeable, wise and kind people here.
I agree with many others that if you want to stay in this relationship and make the finances work, you need to take them over completely. (Ideally that is with cooperation of your husband. It's fine for him to be informed and have a voice, it's not fine for him to have ANY accounts that you don't have full transparency of transactions at this point.)

Otherwise you would need to continue to blindly trust your husband (who's been much less than transparent with you) to handle things for the future into your old age.

Option three is to leave the marriage.

For any option other than the blind trust choice, you'll need to figure out how to handle finances, either for the two of you, or for yourself alone. Even with the blind trust choice, you need to be prepared to take over the finances if your husband dies before you. You can do this.

Finances are not difficult, they just are time consuming and there can be a lot of details to keep track of. You can do this. You can use a spreadsheet or other software if you already like using spreadsheets, apps, etc. Or you can just use a pen, paper, calculator, and folders. Or some combination. Pick a method you are comfortable using to get started.

You will want to get a hold of details for every type of account, whether asset, debt, or recurring bills. You need to know institution, account numbers, how the account is titled (you, your husband, or both), whether beneficiaries are designated for assets, when bills are due, whether there are any automatic payments, etc. Also find out how account information is accessed - are there paper statements, online statements, passwords for online accounts, etc.

Then you'll want to gather/summarize net worth information:
All assets
All debts along with interest rates, amounts and dates for required upcoming payments

Look at monthly and/or yearly income and bills/spending, including amounts and which accounts each of these things go into and out of:
paychecks or business income for each of you
business expenses for each of you
social security deposits for each of you
any other source of income
tax payments on old debt and estimated payments if needed to keep up to date going forward
medicare payments for your husband
mortgage payments
property tax
car payments
HELOC payments
credit card payments
gas, oil changes, car repairs, license plate stickers
insurance (cars, house, life, other)
phone (cell and/or landlines)
cable
internet
gas
electric
water/sewer
subscriptions and memberships (streaming, newspapers, other)
other services - lawn, pool, etc
home repair
food, alcohol (groceries and eating out)
household supplies (cleaning products, toilet paper, cosmetics, anything else that you guys buy to keep the house running)
clothing, shoes, jewelry, haircuts, etc
travel
hobby spending
other purchases - electronics, furniture, whatever else money gets spent on
anything cash gets spent on
(I may have missed some categories, so keep a watch out for others, but this should give you a good start)

Then look at the budget from the big picture - on a monthly or yearly basis, are you as a couple spending more or less than your income? Look back at the past year or two if possible, and project the upcoming year as best as you can (estimate where needed). Look for places to cut back as needed to reduce spending and increase debt repayment. With both of you still working, you ideally want your net worth increasing with a combination of debt repayments and the mortgage payment.

Many other people have posted details of ways for you to take control by checking credit reports, putting your husband on a cash budget or limiting him to using one or two credit cards where you will see every charge, etc. If he is not open to that happening at this point, he is asking you to trust him to do the right thing with the money. I don't think he's earned that trust at this point.

Again, you can do this. If you have questions, you can ask them here. The bogleheads site is full of people that want to help. If you need a good overview to help you understand personal finances (debt repayment, nuts and bolts of budgeting and bill paying), there are good websites and books available. Once you identify what areas you need to learn more about, you can ask for recommendations for books and resources here - there are bad websites and books available, too, so it will be helpful to be steered to good information.

best wishes,
cj
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JAZZISCOOL
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by JAZZISCOOL »

Pacific wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:47 am "He also tapped our HELOC, without telling me, maxing it out at $80k."
I'm not sure I understand this. Was he the sole signatory on the account holding the $$?

Also, do you need the home or could you downsize to a condo?

Something is missing here because there is no explanation of the purpose of him secretly spending so much money. I think you need to first discover the illness before applying the cure.
OP, sorry you are going through this challenge. Not sure where you are in Colorado, and I know RE prices are high, but if you're on the front range, $950k is not an average/median house price, but is on the high end (unless you're in Aspen, e.g.). As this BH posted, you might consider downsizing to a condo/town-home. You could find something for less than $450k since your kids are out of the house and you could make a smaller place work.

If you stay, it sounds like you should be handling ALL the finances, given the history.

I agree with some of the other posts that question the marriage but of course, that is a highly personal decision. I'm not sure I would have the fortitude to live with such an unstable financial situation. Change is hard at any age. Perhaps you could look into some personal counseling to review your options and get some support.

I have heard the phrase "gray divorce" more often recently; getting a divorce over 50 is fairly common:

https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/resources/gray-divorce/
theplayer11
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by theplayer11 »

delamer wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:43 am
theplayer11 wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 8:10 am
minimalistmarc wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:52 am It’s personal but my wife would divorce me if I did this and hid it from her
that's extreme imo. No way my wife would, she would be disappointed of course.
Nothing extreme about it.

Mismanagement is bad enough, but he hid information and reneged on their agreement to use the the HELOC for emergencies only.
agreement? lol..I believe our relationship is strong enough were again, no way, no how, not in a million years my wife would even think of the D word. Very extreme...IMO
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by Mr. Rumples »

When I was growing up, my father - who owned a business employing as many as 180 people - handed over his check to my mother who gave him his allowance. She paid the bills. When my husband and I first started living together right after college, we adopted the same model. I handled the money, gave him his allowance - and I was so frugal that I would squeeze a penny so tight that Lincoln's eyes would bulge out (but he hated dealing with finances). Its time to do this. If you don't feel able, there are services out there who will help you until you feel comfortable. If you don't, you are not in a marriage but in a prison. Perhaps your kids might help make the transition if they are good with money. I use to live on the Front Range, its expensive, but what's even more expensive is the cost of long term care should the need arise. You need to get a grip on this.

Colorado is a equitable distribution state. The debt is half yours, but so are all the assets. Leaving you out of the decision making process in your finances and saddling you with half the debt might be considered financial spousal abuse; it might even be considered emotional spousal abuse - especially if he fails to fully remedy the situation openly. Sitting down with an attorney might help shed light on the financial reality. We normally don't think of it as abuse, but it is recognized as such more and more.
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:42 pm, edited 8 times in total.
crit
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by crit »

You're obviously not going to divorce him; no use talking up that tree.

Neither you nor he will let you take the reins.

Neither you nor he seems to fully understand or explain the income and debt and expense/leak situation here. It honestly sounds to me like a lot of willful ignorance on both sides.

The only solution I can see is to hire an accountant, where you both agree to give that professional full viewing access to everything, so that an unbiased third person can show you the full picture of income, expenses and accumulated debt for the past five, maybe ten, years.

Don't involve your kids here, at least not yet. You need to pay a financial therapist to make you both face and answer hard questions.
delamer
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by delamer »

drawpoker wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:31 pm
delamer wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 6:10 pm
The OP and her husband appear to have used the restricted application, not file and suspend.....

Not according to her post.

"I already claimed my SS at 62, and using "file and suspend", DH filed at 66 and is delaying taking benefits until 70 to max out his benefit........"


I believe she used the wrong term. Suspend would mean he is not collecting, while in fact he is collecting a spousal benefit on her record.
Last edited by delamer on Sat Nov 23, 2019 10:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.
delamer
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by delamer »

Startingover2019 wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 7:27 pm So how come OP seems clueless that she can get SSI from him if he’s getting it from her? I am confused.
I assume that he said “This is what we’re doing, sign here.”

And she went along with it. Doesn’t mean she understood the details.
EnjoyIt
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by EnjoyIt »

Sorry for the troubles, here is my advice:

First thing you need to do is understand your finances better and stop leaving it to him.

I think the first step is obtaining a credit report on the both of you. There may be more debt you are not aware of.

Next run through old credit card and bank history to see if there are some weird things going on. The math just doesn’t make sense to me. You two have made too much money to be in this situation and I think this money may have been disappearing somehow/somewhere. I honestly fear it may be worse than what you know so far. I think there is a lot more debt out there and servicing it is where the money has disappeared if infidelity/drugs/gambling is not likely.

After this you can evaluate if a divorce is worthwhile or not. You should be able to get half his SS and half of whatever assets you two have accumulated.

Last, do not take no for an answer and work as a team to figure out what to do next as per the advice you have already received. Do your finances together. Pay all bills together. This is from now on a team effort. Period.

I really do wish you luck. Sounds like you have 2 solid years to dig yourself out which I believe is very doable.
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RetiredCSProf
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by RetiredCSProf »

I am reminded of a woman who sat next to me on a cross-country flight about 30 years ago. She told me that she had divorced her husband after realizing he had ruined their finances while keeping her in the dark. She first discovered there was a problem when she was in a minor traffic accident and was surprised to learn that her auto insurance policy had lapsed due to non-payment of premiums. That was just the "tip of the iceberg." Her husband had underpaid income taxes for years, and she had just "blindly" signed the tax returns.

You've been given a lot of good advice. I'll add that it would be advisable to determine everything about your current financial state. There may be more surprises.
fru-gal
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by fru-gal »

OP, if you get a divorce, you are not likely to be alone, as you have those kids. Many women outlive their husbands and have the emotional support of their children.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by LilyFleur »

RetiredCSProf wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:24 pm I am reminded of a woman who sat next to me on a cross-country flight about 30 years ago. She told me that she had divorced her husband after realizing he had ruined their finances while keeping her in the dark. She first discovered there was a problem when she was in a minor traffic accident and was surprised to learn that her auto insurance policy had lapsed due to non-payment of premiums. That was just the "tip of the iceberg." Her husband had underpaid income taxes for years, and she had just "blindly" signed the tax returns.

You've been given a lot of good advice. I'll add that it would be advisable to determine everything about your current financial state. There may be more surprises.
When one spouse keeps financial secrets to the detriment of their spouse, it is financial infidelity. The law generally requires that each partner in a marriage treat each other with the same fiduciary duty, as if they were in a business together.

For the folks that are advising you to completely control the finances, I don't see how that is realistic. Your husband has successfully hidden financial matters from you for decades. So if you sit up and say, "I am controlling the finances now," I think he would simply be more motivated to hide things from you. He doesn't want to be accountable to you in that way.
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by LilyFleur »

fru-gal wrote: Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:33 pm OP, if you get a divorce, you are not likely to be alone, as you have those kids. Many women outlive their husbands and have the emotional support of their children.
But, please, don't put your adult children in the middle of this. That don't need that kind of drama. Someday they will understand. If you decide to divorce, get yourself a good attorney.
eurobogle
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by eurobogle »

I appreciate this thread as a cautionary tale because I can relate to the husband's situation. I also work as a consultant, I have good years and bad years, I am sloppy with my budgeting, I am occasionally surprised by large expenses like tax bills, and I don't have a hard line between personal and professional expenses. I would probably find it possible to rationalize losses and debts as volatility rather than a negative trend. I sympathise with the husband in the sense that "there but for the grace of God go I."

This is a timely reminder for me to keep DW in the loop on the full picture as she is, thankfully, much more diligent than me with budgeting.
EnjoyIt
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by EnjoyIt »

eurobogle wrote: Sun Nov 24, 2019 3:42 am I appreciate this thread as a cautionary tale because I can relate to the husband's situation. I also work as a consultant, I have good years and bad years, I am sloppy with my budgeting, I am occasionally surprised by large expenses like tax bills, and I don't have a hard line between personal and professional expenses. I would probably find it possible to rationalize losses and debts as volatility rather than a negative trend. I sympathise with the husband in the sense that "there but for the grace of God go I."

This is a timely reminder for me to keep DW in the loop on the full picture as she is, thankfully, much more diligent than me with budgeting.
I think it is one thing to mess up and owe a little money in taxes. It could happen to anyone. It is a whole other story to owe $90k to the IRS and have a payment plan for the last 6 years while secretly taking out a home equity line of credit.
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HueyLD
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by HueyLD »

This thread should serve as a warning to all BH spouses who have shown no interest in household finance or budget.

It bothered me whenever some BH posted about his (usually his, sometimes hers) spouse having no knowledge of household finance/budget. It should be a priority to keep one's spouse informed no matter how disinterested the spouse is. The spouse doesn't have to actually manage the finance, but (s)he should be in the knows.

With that said, I wish the OP the best of luck. It is never too late to take charge of one's life.
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tvubpwcisla
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by tvubpwcisla »

Sorry to hear about your difficult situation. I think one of the bigger issues here is the stain of trust and the lack thereof going forward. My concern is more with what else is he hiding besides the financial picture? I think you need to sit down with him, ask him to please be honest, and lay everything on the table. Brace yourself, as there is probably a lot more you don't know about. I hope it works out for the best.
mptfan
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by mptfan »

celia wrote: Fri Nov 22, 2019 11:06 pmTo prevent DH from pulling out select pieces of mail, have all joint mail forwarded to a P O box that you control. You can let it pile up for a week there without worrying about having to go thru all the mail every day.
So you think it's wrong that the husband hide things from the wife, so your solution is that the wife set up a P.O. box so she can hide things from the husband?
mptfan
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by mptfan »

HueyLD wrote: Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:09 amIt should be a priority to keep one's spouse informed no matter how disinterested the spouse is. The spouse doesn't have to actually manage the finance, but (s)he should be in the knows.
I agree, but how far should you push the issue if the uninformed spouse is actively disinterested and does not want to know? Pushing that too far can cause it's own issues.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Help: Husband's Surprise Debts

Post by Mr. Rumples »

Financial abuse is emotional abuse. Its a moment when the spouse has to find the courage to take action. I think we have all known people who stay in an abusive relationship; its frustrating to watch, even infuriating, but there isn't much to do other than offer support.

He is holding her hostage. It is not a marriage of equals, but one where one spouse is exerting control over the other. He is limiting her freedom of choice in matters by saddling them with debt.

While at first glance it might seem appropriate to have a PO box to see what's going on, should this go to a divorce, he could say she was hiding things and thus diminish her case.

It's time to either accept the situation or hire an attorney. How does one even make a will or do estate planning in this situation where this abuse is going on?
Last edited by Mr. Rumples on Sun Nov 24, 2019 7:50 am, edited 4 times in total.
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