Post Mortem Settlement

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vested1
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Post Mortem Settlement

Post by vested1 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:13 am

My MIL passed on at age 95 ten days ago on July 30th, and I've been handling all aspects of the settlement of her affairs. This is largely due to the fact that my wife is the oldest child and that she is the only child of four that still resides locally. I'm trying to relieve the stress on my wife while honoring the wishes of her and her siblings who are scattered amongst several States.

Even with what I thought was adequate preparation, there have been some surprises that were unforeseen. I've found that regardless of my good intentions, emotions run high at times, and motives are questioned. I've listed some of the issues below, all of which are well into resolution, but would be curious to hear from others about what they may have gone through. This could be instructive to others if/when they find themselves thrust into this responsibility.

- My MIL had not filed State or federal taxes for 7 years. Two siblings assumed the other was handling this. We filed her 2017 taxes this week and a small refund will be sent to her checking account from both entities to pay for the filing. The accountant we went to is very familiar with this situation and said to wait for a response from the IRS to see if they want us to file on her behalf for the other 6 years. We are of the opinion that California and the feds will be happy to keep the total $400 per year refund rather than give it to the tax preparer. This decision was suggested by the accountant, a CPA who has been doing this for 40 years.

- SS and Medicare notification and cancellation with submittal of death certificates. We will have to repay the July SS payment and other entities that want their last payment back.

- United Heath Care supplemental insurance cancelled with forms to fill out. Premiums will still be deducted from her checking account until UHC receives death certificate, which I will pick up today.

- Calpers pension notification with forms to fill out and death certificate sent.

- Annuity company notification with forms to fill out by all siblings and one death certificate sent. Ongoing (1/4 of original) payments to 4 siblings for 7 more years. This deferred annuity was a surprise that began disbursement two years ago, and they refuse to send us a contract even though my wife has full POA and is executor of the trust. The annuity company has been difficult and we may need to get her lawyer involved.

- Mortuary, payments for cremation, death certificates, etc, above and beyond available funds from MIL's accounts. I wrote two obituaries, one for the paper one for the mortuary website. Finding and submitting a flattering picture of my MIL.

- Cemetery, recovering payment for three family member's niche spaces. We have the ashes for the other two and I will pick up MIL ashes today. Her final wish, and that of the other two, her husband and sister, are to be scattered together in the ocean.

- Charter of a boat with permits to scatter ashes. Hiring a pastor to say some words at the scattering.

- Settling last bill with the skilled nursing facility where she resided for the last several years.

- Informing all friends and acquaintances of her death and dealing with their emotions.

- Her attorney. Dealing with the disposition of her condo and a previously established shared deed between the siblings.

- The sale of her condo and all that entails. Dealing with 4 sets of signatures and documents (future). Getting a real estate agent and negotiating a commission of 5% (complete). Professional assessment of current value for step up in basis calculations. Many other issues that I won't go into here, but I will be preparing the condo for sale with little or no help.

I'm sure I've left something out. At first the task seemed daunting, but progress has been good. I look forward to a time when we can start living our lives for ourselves in the near future, as my wife and I visited her mother daily, and made sure she was comfortable. Her death is a mixed bag of relief and guilt at the recognition of that relief.
Last edited by vested1 on Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

TSR
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by TSR » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:59 am

This is interesting and helpful. This sounds complicated but not necessarily more so than most. I'd be interested in hearing updates. Thank you, and condolences for your loss.

pshonore
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by pshonore » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:28 pm

Sorry for your loss. Her July payment from SS was her benefit for the month of June and she was entitled to that. Since she did not live for the entire month of July, any payment received in August should be returned

RickBoglehead
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by RickBoglehead » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:31 pm

Good luck on recovering payment for cemetery plots. My in-law's bought 6 spaces with her sister and husband many years ago. The intent, never documented, was for each to use 3 spaces (pretty funny since SIL had 2 kids and would need 4 spaces, vs. my in-law's needing 3 spaces.

SIL, husband and a daughter passed years ago, used their 3 spaces. 1 of my in-law's spaces used for a brother. 2 spaces left.

FIL learns of free burial in national cemeteries for veterans (WWII) and elects to do that. Suggests that we give the two plots to remaining child of SIL, who is in his 60s. DW declines.

In-laws pass away, we contact cemetery, provide proof of ownership. They require that son of SIL sign away his right, he hasn't responded to requests. They advise that market for resale is very limited, and they have plenty of space so no interest in rebuying plots.

I've done 2 full estates, 1 partial (MIL to FIL). What a PITA, even with one heir. My father died intestate, and out of state, even more fun.

Best wishes.

RudyS
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by RudyS » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:00 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:31 pm
Good luck on recovering payment for cemetery plots. My in-law's bought 6 spaces with her sister and husband many years ago. The intent, never documented, was for each to use 3 spaces (pretty funny since SIL had 2 kids and would need 4 spaces, vs. my in-law's needing 3 spaces.

SIL, husband and a daughter passed years ago, used their 3 spaces. 1 of my in-law's spaces used for a brother. 2 spaces left.

FIL learns of free burial in national cemeteries for veterans (WWII) and elects to do that. Suggests that we give the two plots to remaining child of SIL, who is in his 60s. DW declines.

In-laws pass away, we contact cemetery, provide proof of ownership. They require that son of SIL sign away his right, he hasn't responded to requests. They advise that market for resale is very limited, and they have plenty of space so no interest in rebuying plots.

I've done 2 full estates, 1 partial (MIL to FIL). What a PITA, even with one heir. My father died intestate, and out of state, even more fun.

Best wishes.
Re: resale of plots:
I was researching buying a pair of plots on the "secondary market" and found this company. There are others. I know nothing about them.
http://www.buyandsellcemeteryplots.com/ ... rvices.htm

donall
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by donall » Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:08 pm

OP, great job on helping your wife during a difficult time.
I’m adding to this by suggesting you get one last credit report then write the three agencies of your MIL’s passing.

vested1
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by vested1 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:23 am

pshonore wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:28 pm
Sorry for your loss. Her July payment from SS was her benefit for the month of June and she was entitled to that. Since she did not live for the entire month of July, any payment received in August should be returned
That's not how it worked for my mom and dad, as both passed away near the end of the month, requiring us to pay that month's benefit back to SS. This seems to contradict the SS policy of paying benefits in arrears, which I can testify to since I just started getting benefits, having filed for and having earned them in July, but getting paid in August. No big deal though.

We also assumed that there would be a death benefit of $255, but not so. A death benefit is only payable to a spouse or a child who is eligible to file on the deceased record (minor or disabled).

Bottom line is that you learn a lot about regulations and legal requirements when you need to settle the affairs of a loved one, most of it of a negative nature. I guess dying is like everything else we go through. Everyone (all agencies) want their piece of the pie. Thankfully, our family isn't overly susceptible to greed. I've witnessed some pretty ugly behavior in other families that was never anticipated.

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.

mouses
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by mouses » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:36 am

You sound very organized. That and keeping the beneficiaries informed are important.

I would not devote too much time to trying to get rid of and paid for the cemetery niches. Unless for some reason they are more valuable than they are in my location.

Dottie57
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Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm

Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:46 am

Keep working on the Deferred annuity. Contact state Attorney general and state office for Insurance if problems continue.

And sorry for your loss.

vested1
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by vested1 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:01 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:31 pm
Good luck on recovering payment for cemetery plots. My in-law's bought 6 spaces with her sister and husband many years ago. The intent, never documented, was for each to use 3 spaces (pretty funny since SIL had 2 kids and would need 4 spaces, vs. my in-law's needing 3 spaces.

SIL, husband and a daughter passed years ago, used their 3 spaces. 1 of my in-law's spaces used for a brother. 2 spaces left.

FIL learns of free burial in national cemeteries for veterans (WWII) and elects to do that. Suggests that we give the two plots to remaining child of SIL, who is in his 60s. DW declines.

In-laws pass away, we contact cemetery, provide proof of ownership. They require that son of SIL sign away his right, he hasn't responded to requests. They advise that market for resale is very limited, and they have plenty of space so no interest in rebuying plots.

I've done 2 full estates, 1 partial (MIL to FIL). What a PITA, even with one heir. My father died intestate, and out of state, even more fun.

Best wishes.
Indeed. I don't hold out much hope, as my mother bought a plot decades ago in a different local cemetery for 3k, which they refuse to refund to the estate.

My MIL spent $6,700 on a niche to place her ashes, along with her husband's and her sister's. This was long ago, and before she decided, near her death, to scatter the ashes together in the ocean. Even if we were going to go ahead with interring the ashes in the niche, there were other charges that I discovered would need to be paid.

- $750 to open or close the niche for every instance.
- $350 x 3 for the only urn the city cemetery would accept (they sell them).
- $650 x 3 for required plaques, of the city's design that only the city is allowed to install.
- $1,600 one time "Endowment Care" fee for dusting off the niche space occasionally I assume.

That's $5,350 no one was counting on. If the city approves a refund of the original niche charge, it will only refund 75% ($1,675 to delete a name from a ledger).

I consulted the siblings before sitting down with the mortuary director. They wanted the simplest (cheapest) treatment for her cremation, which was a bit over $2,000 with the death certificates. You can't believe the up-sell attempts, with videos and brochures of $$$$$ caskets that you will never see because they will be burned up, or jewelry that can contain ashes so you can carry your loved one with you wherever you go, and on and on. After hearing a multitude of "no" responses the director finally got it, and said that State law requires a container for cremation, and $175 was their cheapest option, which gave you a cardboard box, "but you could get a paper pillow for an additional $100". None of the other siblings were subjected to the implication of cheapness that my wife and I had to endure at that meeting.

bayview
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Location: WNC

Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by bayview » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:39 am

Good library reads: Jessica Mitford’s “The American Way of Death” and her updated “The American Way of Death Revisited,” the latter published posthumously. (They deal with the funeral industry, not the overall issues mentioned in the OP.)
The continuous execution of a sound strategy gives you the benefit of the strategy. That's what it's all about. --Rick Ferri

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:49 am

- Annuity company notification with forms to fill out by all siblings and one death certificate sent. Ongoing (1/4 of original) payments to 4 siblings for 7 more years. This deferred annuity was a surprise that began disbursement two years ago, and they refuse to send us a contract even though my wife has full POA and is executor of the trust. The annuity company has been difficult and we may need to get her lawyer involved.
As you probably know, POA ends with the death of the person who granted it.

Usually "executor" is for the estate, has your wife been named executor, gotten letters testamentary?. For a trust, you would have a trustee. Who was the owner and beneficiary of the annuity?

Dottie57
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:53 am

vested1 wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:23 am
pshonore wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:28 pm
Sorry for your loss. Her July payment from SS was her benefit for the month of June and she was entitled to that. Since she did not live for the entire month of July, any payment received in August should be returned
That's not how it worked for my mom and dad, as both passed away near the end of the month, requiring us to pay that month's benefit back to SS. This seems to contradict the SS policy of paying benefits in arrears, which I can testify to since I just started getting benefits, having filed for and having earned them in July, but getting paid in August. No big deal though.

We also assumed that there would be a death benefit of $255, but not so. A death benefit is only payable to a spouse or a child who is eligible to file on the deceased record (minor or disabled).

Bottom line is that you learn a lot about regulations and legal requirements when you need to settle the affairs of a loved one, most of it of a negative nature. I guess dying is like everything else we go through. Everyone (all agencies) want their piece of the pie. Thankfully, our family isn't overly susceptible to greed. I've witnessed some pretty ugly behavior in other families that was never anticipated.

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.
My dad died on the 4th of the month. He had been paid in checking on the 3rd of the month. Nothing was taken back. There was a death benefit paid to my mom. The funeral home took care of notification of SS office.

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

Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:09 am

Also check her state's unclaimed funds website. If there was uncertainty over her tax filing there may be other accounts out there that have been forgotten. Actually, it's a good idea to check that every few years anyway.

daveydoo
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by daveydoo » Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:11 pm

vested1 wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:13 am
...I've found that regardless of my good intentions, emotions run high at times, and motives are questioned...
This is influenced by the fact that it's your wife, not you, who is the blood relative, imo. I think this arrangement invites suspicion and many families would not be comfortable with it.

So sorry about your MIL. You may have some remarkable expertise but it's best, imo, if your wife or another interested and/or capable sibling of hers were to take the lead.
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

vested1
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Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:20 pm

Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by vested1 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:12 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:49 am
- Annuity company notification with forms to fill out by all siblings and one death certificate sent. Ongoing (1/4 of original) payments to 4 siblings for 7 more years. This deferred annuity was a surprise that began disbursement two years ago, and they refuse to send us a contract even though my wife has full POA and is executor of the trust. The annuity company has been difficult and we may need to get her lawyer involved.
As you probably know, POA ends with the death of the person who granted it.

Usually "executor" is for the estate, has your wife been named executor, gotten letters testamentary?. For a trust, you would have a trustee. Who was the owner and beneficiary of the annuity?
My MIL was the owner, and my wife and her three siblings are the beneficiaries. They had a trust (wife's mom and dad, both now deceased), with my wife and her brother as trustees. The annuity company did mention they would need letters of testamentary to release the contract but also said that if any of the beneficiaries had a copy of the contract (which they don't) it needed to be returned to the company. I doubt it's worth it to pay for the additional legal filing, but it would be nice to know the terms of the annuity.

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Kenkat
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by Kenkat » Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:23 pm

It is a lot to deal with and it takes awhile to get everything unwound. Organization is key - when my in-laws passed in the same year, we made a list of everything that had to be addressed, checked status and sent out periodic updates to family. It eventually all gets finished.

For the annuity, it sounds like the annuity company is paying out the balance of the contract per the original terms; I am not really sure why you need a copy of the contract. Is it worth getting a lawyer involved on the very small chance that the annuity company is not paying out the contract correctly? Annuities and the companies that offer them are highly regulated and in general want to honor the terms of the contracts - they have built their reputation on that.

I would not pay out anything to other heirs until you have been reimbursed. For example, if the final expenses will be $20,000 and you have to front some of that, I would not distribute proceeds from the sale of the condo or from checking or other accounts until you are reimbursed. Of course, accounts with named beneficiaries will be paid out, but for accounts that are in the estate, you are under no obligation to pay anything out until the assets are settled. Communication is key though - tell siblings final expenses will cost x; ideally they should all kick in and cover a portion and be reimbursed, but if not, provide a full accounting and periodic updates.

Good luck, it will all get done.

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AllieTB1323
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by AllieTB1323 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 1:24 pm

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:09 am
Also check her state's unclaimed funds website. If there was uncertainty over her tax filing there may be other accounts out there that have been forgotten. Actually, it's a good idea to check that every few years anyway.

I'm sorry for your family's loss.

Excellent suggestion, we found both my mom/step father and my FIL had fairly large amounts of money sitting at the state's unclaimed property site.

vested1
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Re: Post Mortem Settlement

Post by vested1 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:57 pm

daveydoo wrote:
Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:11 pm
vested1 wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:13 am
...I've found that regardless of my good intentions, emotions run high at times, and motives are questioned...
This is influenced by the fact that it's your wife, not you, who is the blood relative, imo. I think this arrangement invites suspicion and many families would not be comfortable with it.

So sorry about your MIL. You may have some remarkable expertise but it's best, imo, if your wife or another interested and/or capable sibling of hers were to take the lead.
In a perfect world, I would more than happy to take this route. However, past experience with dealing with her care eliminates this option. They are all grateful now, but occasionally emotion gets the better of either one of the men.

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