Author Topic: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?  (Read 4955 times)

PeggySue

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« on: June 14, 2017, 11:32:55 AM »
Hello,

Looking for some advice from the Mustachian community.  I have been estranged from my parents for about 3 years now.  I had a rough childhood, with an abusive father and a mother that wouldn't leave.  I don't really want to re-hash the details but it was the best decision for my mental health, sanity, and ability to move forward in my life.  I really hate that this is the case, and I had tried for years, many different ways, to improve the situation and address the elephants in the room -- alcoholism, debt, abuse, depression, anger, and on and on -- but my dad is a mean SOB and wasn't about to change.  It just took me way too long to realize.

My worries now are about what will happen when they die.  They are in very poor financial shape, and my mom in particular is in very poor health.  They have alienated most family and all friends.  It is just my half-sister and I (same mom, different dad) and she was treated even worse by both our mom and her step-dad (my dad). She lives in the same state as they do, and I live 2,000 miles away.  Will I just get a call someday from the police?  My husband and I did tell my mom before the estrangement that we would help her financially if she could give us an idea of what she might need, but I also let her know that I wouldn't do anything for my dad (not the most tactful, I realize, but very, very true).   If I understand correctly, their debts won't be passed on to me -- what they own will be taken to cover outstanding debts (and I've also checked that they didn't add me to any accounts).  I'm just wondering if anyone knows how this will play out in real life when they pass?

damnedbee

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2017, 11:39:53 AM »
I'm in a similar situation. I expect that as the "dependable" one in my family, it will fall on me to make all the arrangements. I'm sure I'll feel resentful, but I'll just grit my teeth and do it. I'll look at it as the last time I need to cover for an irresponsible parent.

bogart

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1023
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2017, 11:59:49 AM »
I'm sorry to know you're needing to deal with (or anticipating needing to deal with) this.

I was not estranged from him, but my dad was mentally incompetent (dementia) when he died, and had been for years prior.  He died after years in a nursing home, with no will and very limited assets and debts (basically, he had a checking account with under $2K in it, and income from social security he was obligated to pay to the nursing home and I had to deal with making sure the final  bill to the nursing home got paid, plus a few costs associated with finalizing his "estate," i.e., documenting that everything got processed).  Although I had had a power of attorney while he was alive, his death made that invalid, so I went through getting appointed as the administrator of his estate and getting everything taken care of.  I also arranged his burial.

Laws vary state to state, but I don't believe you have any legal obligation to do anything.  There should be (local government) officials in your state and your parents' (which is likely the relevant location) who can tell you.

If your parents die in a medical setting, I expect you'll hear from the medical officials, if otherwise, well, I don't know, but police seems possible.  If you can, I'd make sure that you are listed as next-of-kin (assuming that you want to be contacted).  But if you are, the dire warnings that get promulgated about people not being allowed to make medical decisions for others notwithstanding, my experience was the opposite, that even without documentation (of my right to do so), medical authorities wanted me to be the one who made medical decisions for my dad -- it was me or them (where I think this might have changed would have been if yet another family member had challenged my right to do so -- but no one did).  So you may find yourself in that situation too, unless legal documents explicitly prevent you from doing so (not sure whether your use of the word estrangement reflects a legal situation or just reality). 

Settling the estate of someone who doesn't have much isn't terribly complicated or expensive, though it can be annoying (keep paper documentation of everything down to the penny).  Arranging a burial isn't, either.  My dad hadn't wanted to be cremated (which would otherwise have been my choice) and I respected that and his other wishes and basically opted to spend some extra money to have a local funeral home take care of some of the arrangements, but mostly it was a matter of making some decisions and signing papers (and paying for what I'd chosen). 

former player

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3924
  • Location: Avalon
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2017, 12:19:39 PM »
The local authority for the area in which they live will probably have some form of "paupers burial" for people who die without assets or family willing to step up.  Alternatively, they may have some legislation which makes next of kin responsible.  So I would suggest that you start by contacting the lowest tier of local government for the area in which they live and asking what their rules are.

I don't see a problem with letting the local authority make arrangements for burial: they ensure that they are perfectly dignified and appropriate, just without any of the frills.  They will usually do their best to find and contact next of kin.

The usual rules on inheritance are that debts can't be passed on, and that any assets will be used to pay the debts.  If there are minimal amounts of assets, there is often a simple way of dealing with them which doesn't involve the whole probate/intestacy rigmarole.

HipGnosis

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1481
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2017, 01:21:32 PM »
The authorities will probably call your sister.   It will be up to her to call or contact you.
If the last parent to die doesn't have a will, the intestacy laws of the state will determine how property is distributed and debts are handled.

Gin1984

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4648
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2017, 01:38:02 PM »
Most states actually do male children responsible for their parent's debt to nursing homes, and there have been nursing homes that have gone after grown children.  I'd speak to a lawyer in your parent's state as well as your own.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk


AlanStache

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1777
  • Age: 39
  • Location: South East Virginia
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2017, 02:32:35 PM »
Most states actually do male children responsible for their parent's debt to nursing homes, and there have been nursing homes that have gone after grown children.  I'd speak to a lawyer in your parent's state as well as your own.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

Interesting, would the child have to be involved with the parent going into the home?

wenchsenior

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1920
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2017, 02:40:59 PM »
Most states actually do male children responsible for their parent's debt to nursing homes, and there have been nursing homes that have gone after grown children.  I'd speak to a lawyer in your parent's state as well as your own.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

Interesting, would the child have to be involved with the parent going into the home?

Last time I looked into this, it was on the books in a lot of states but not usually pursued or enforced.

Here's one old link:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2012/05/16/will-adult-children-have-to-pay-moms-nursing-home-costs/#241393ad2a66

But it's definitely worth keeping an eye out for changes in these laws, or lot of us might be seriously unpleasantly surprised if our parents die poor in a nursing home someday and they come after us.

I suspect if more cases come up, some estranged kid is going to say "fuck no" about paying for their parents' poor planning and keep fighting it all the way up the court ladder.  If these laws are enforced in the future, it could be financially ruinous for the more responsible of the offspring.

ETA: Here's a more recent article with the relevant states.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/northwesternmutual/2014/02/03/who-will-pay-for-moms-or-dads-nursing-home-bill-filial-support-laws-and-long-term-care/#7259234f6e1d
« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 02:44:53 PM by wenchsenior »

the_fixer

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 463
  • Location: Colorado
  • mind on my money money on my mind
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2017, 09:56:26 PM »
I have always wondered this as well, last time I saw my dad was probably 33 years ago and I have talked to him one time in that 33 years when he was going into the hospital and someone found my number and he called me (~10 years ago).

Not sure if the state or someone will call me to let me know when he passes?

If someone calls asking for money i do not see how they could expect me to pay a penny for someone that abandoned me, provided no support and never raised me.

cadillacmike

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 60
  • Location: FL
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2017, 02:28:20 AM »
Most states actually do male children responsible for their parent's debt to nursing homes, and there have been nursing homes that have gone after grown children.  I'd speak to a lawyer in your parent's state as well as your own.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

Interesting, would the child have to be involved with the parent going into the home?

The old link just dumps you onto forbes main page, but the new one works.

Another reason to live in FL and not one of the heavily taxed left leaning states.

And again, no location from the OP.

Last time I looked into this, it was on the books in a lot of states but not usually pursued or enforced.

Here's one old link:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2012/05/16/will-adult-children-have-to-pay-moms-nursing-home-costs/#241393ad2a66

But it's definitely worth keeping an eye out for changes in these laws, or lot of us might be seriously unpleasantly surprised if our parents die poor in a nursing home someday and they come after us.

I suspect if more cases come up, some estranged kid is going to say "fuck no" about paying for their parents' poor planning and keep fighting it all the way up the court ladder.  If these laws are enforced in the future, it could be financially ruinous for the more responsible of the offspring.

ETA: Here's a more recent article with the relevant states.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/northwesternmutual/2014/02/03/who-will-pay-for-moms-or-dads-nursing-home-bill-filial-support-laws-and-long-term-care/#7259234f6e1d

Gin1984

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4648
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2017, 06:17:36 AM »
I have always wondered this as well, last time I saw my dad was probably 33 years ago and I have talked to him one time in that 33 years when he was going into the hospital and someone found my number and he called me (~10 years ago).

Not sure if the state or someone will call me to let me know when he passes?

If someone calls asking for money i do not see how they could expect me to pay a penny for someone that abandoned me, provided no support and never raised me.

Because the law says they can.  I'd say, call your reps and see about trying to change the law as well as see a lawyer to find out if you could protect yourself with some legal option.

oldladystache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 603
  • Age: 74
  • Location: coastal southern california
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2017, 06:26:28 AM »
I have always wondered this as well, last time I saw my dad was probably 33 years ago and I have talked to him one time in that 33 years when he was going into the hospital and someone found my number and he called me (~10 years ago).

Not sure if the state or someone will call me to let me know when he passes?

If someone calls asking for money i do not see how they could expect me to pay a penny for someone that abandoned me, provided no support and never raised me.

It was in California, about 50 years ago, so things have probably changed. My mom was billed for her father's care but when she was able to prove that he had abandoned her when she was an infant they decided to leave her alone.

wenchsenior

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1920
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2017, 07:53:29 AM »
Most states actually do male children responsible for their parent's debt to nursing homes, and there have been nursing homes that have gone after grown children.  I'd speak to a lawyer in your parent's state as well as your own.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

Interesting, would the child have to be involved with the parent going into the home?

The old link just dumps you onto forbes main page, but the new one works.

Another reason to live in FL and not one of the heavily taxed left leaning states.

And again, no location from the OP.

Last time I looked into this, it was on the books in a lot of states but not usually pursued or enforced.

Here's one old link:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2012/05/16/will-adult-children-have-to-pay-moms-nursing-home-costs/#241393ad2a66

But it's definitely worth keeping an eye out for changes in these laws, or lot of us might be seriously unpleasantly surprised if our parents die poor in a nursing home someday and they come after us.

I suspect if more cases come up, some estranged kid is going to say "fuck no" about paying for their parents' poor planning and keep fighting it all the way up the court ladder.  If these laws are enforced in the future, it could be financially ruinous for the more responsible of the offspring.

ETA: Here's a more recent article with the relevant states.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/northwesternmutual/2014/02/03/who-will-pay-for-moms-or-dads-nursing-home-bill-filial-support-laws-and-long-term-care/#7259234f6e1d

About half the states with filial support laws on the books are red states.  Might have something to do with social conservativism, perhaps.

Re: filial support, one thing that's unclear to me is: we live in a state with no filial support laws on the books, but DH's parents/family (who he has little contact with and who are all very low income) live in one with such laws.  Could nursing homes in that state hypothetically cross state boundaries to come after DH for payment?

ariapluscat

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 486
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2017, 10:34:08 AM »
The local authority for the area in which they live will probably have some form of "paupers burial" for people who die without assets or family willing to step up.  Alternatively, they may have some legislation which makes next of kin responsible.  So I would suggest that you start by contacting the lowest tier of local government for the area in which they live and asking what their rules are.

I don't see a problem with letting the local authority make arrangements for burial: they ensure that they are perfectly dignified and appropriate, just without any of the frills.  They will usually do their best to find and contact next of kin.

The usual rules on inheritance are that debts can't be passed on, and that any assets will be used to pay the debts.  If there are minimal amounts of assets, there is often a simple way of dealing with them which doesn't involve the whole probate/intestacy rigmarole.

i mean, the first question is whether there's a will or not. and then there's the issue of marriage/order of death. i may be misunderstanding but your mother and father are married? if so, it would pass to the surviving spouse and after both pass, to the next of kin. you'd have to check how the laws are for step siblings if there's no will

there may not be a 'free' burial. i went thru this in va and if the body isn't claimed by someone in x days (and isn't needed further for an investigation of death), then the body will be cremated. if you do decide to claim the body, you'll need some type of proof that you are related to the person. then it's up to you to do what you want with it as far as arrangements. it's also up to you to pay for it.

++ to the contact of next of kin. you could have cops show up at your most recent public address to deliver the bad news out of the blue if you've gone no contact with your relatives. for example, i was in college when my mom died, so i was not at my legal address -- they went to my foster parent's home and would've contacted boston police to inform me since i wasn't at that va address.

also ++ about the paperwork. you could offer to become administrator of the estate since it sounds like there are other siblings so it's not automatic. then it's either following the will or trying to follow what you think the deceased would do w/in the range of the law. if your abusive parents are like mine was, it will probably be a real f***'d up mess with very little documentation. 

sorry to be so blunt and say that it's likely to be a mess, but that's how it was for me...

Gin1984

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4648
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2017, 11:00:55 AM »
Most states actually do male children responsible for their parent's debt to nursing homes, and there have been nursing homes that have gone after grown children.  I'd speak to a lawyer in your parent's state as well as your own.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

Interesting, would the child have to be involved with the parent going into the home?

The old link just dumps you onto forbes main page, but the new one works.

Another reason to live in FL and not one of the heavily taxed left leaning states.

And again, no location from the OP.

Last time I looked into this, it was on the books in a lot of states but not usually pursued or enforced.

Here's one old link:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2012/05/16/will-adult-children-have-to-pay-moms-nursing-home-costs/#241393ad2a66

But it's definitely worth keeping an eye out for changes in these laws, or lot of us might be seriously unpleasantly surprised if our parents die poor in a nursing home someday and they come after us.

I suspect if more cases come up, some estranged kid is going to say "fuck no" about paying for their parents' poor planning and keep fighting it all the way up the court ladder.  If these laws are enforced in the future, it could be financially ruinous for the more responsible of the offspring.

ETA: Here's a more recent article with the relevant states.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/northwesternmutual/2014/02/03/who-will-pay-for-moms-or-dads-nursing-home-bill-filial-support-laws-and-long-term-care/#7259234f6e1d

About half the states with filial support laws on the books are red states.  Might have something to do with social conservativism, perhaps.

Re: filial support, one thing that's unclear to me is: we live in a state with no filial support laws on the books, but DH's parents/family (who he has little contact with and who are all very low income) live in one with such laws.  Could nursing homes in that state hypothetically cross state boundaries to come after DH for payment?
Yes, they can.  The laws are based on where your parents live, not where you live.

Blonde Lawyer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 720
    • My Student Loan Refi Story
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2017, 11:09:17 AM »
A friend of the family lives in Mass and was recently contacted by NY police about a dead great Aunt with no living family.  Friend was the "next of kin."  They basically told friend that great Aunt's property was a disastrous health hazard and she had x number of days to come get it cleaned out or face a fine.  I guess under the state's intestacy laws she would have inherited the property but in most states you can disclaim an inheritance if the property would just be a liability for you.  She ended up going and dealing with the mess but I don't know if she did that out of social niceties (doing what someone tells you that you are supposed to do) or if it turned out she had any real legal obligation.  I doubt she really got any money out of the deal. 

PeggySue

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #16 on: June 15, 2017, 11:11:15 AM »
Thanks, everyone.

They live in Illinois which is not a filial responsibility state, as of now.  They don't have a will and refuse to have one, which is ironic because my Dad was an attorney who *did wills for a living* and my mom was a legal secretary sooo they know what happens without a will.  Our last fight, the one that finally did it, was that I was asking how I could help them.  This included asking about establishing a will and setting things to rights so my husband and I could plan to help.

I wish it wasn't like this but I also can't interact with them.  I just didn't want to be hit with unplanned awfulness when we could find ways to mitigate it up front. 


PeggySue

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #17 on: June 15, 2017, 11:28:49 AM »
I should also add I don't expect any money -- I've always been aware there is nothing.  I'm just trying to plan for what costs I will have and the actual process. 

MsSindy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 535
  • Age: 52
  • Location: Philly Burbs
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #18 on: June 15, 2017, 11:34:27 AM »
The other thing to consider is your will, and if you have children or not.  In our case, we have no children and found out that our money would go to our living parents....and I wasn't going to let that happen, so it motivated me to get a will quick!  Just something to think about if it pertains to your situation.

wenchsenior

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1920
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #19 on: June 15, 2017, 12:13:42 PM »
Most states actually do male children responsible for their parent's debt to nursing homes, and there have been nursing homes that have gone after grown children.  I'd speak to a lawyer in your parent's state as well as your own.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

Interesting, would the child have to be involved with the parent going into the home?

The old link just dumps you onto forbes main page, but the new one works.

Another reason to live in FL and not one of the heavily taxed left leaning states.

And again, no location from the OP.

Last time I looked into this, it was on the books in a lot of states but not usually pursued or enforced.

Here's one old link:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardgleckman/2012/05/16/will-adult-children-have-to-pay-moms-nursing-home-costs/#241393ad2a66

But it's definitely worth keeping an eye out for changes in these laws, or lot of us might be seriously unpleasantly surprised if our parents die poor in a nursing home someday and they come after us.

I suspect if more cases come up, some estranged kid is going to say "fuck no" about paying for their parents' poor planning and keep fighting it all the way up the court ladder.  If these laws are enforced in the future, it could be financially ruinous for the more responsible of the offspring.

ETA: Here's a more recent article with the relevant states.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/northwesternmutual/2014/02/03/who-will-pay-for-moms-or-dads-nursing-home-bill-filial-support-laws-and-long-term-care/#7259234f6e1d

About half the states with filial support laws on the books are red states.  Might have something to do with social conservativism, perhaps.

Re: filial support, one thing that's unclear to me is: we live in a state with no filial support laws on the books, but DH's parents/family (who he has little contact with and who are all very low income) live in one with such laws.  Could nursing homes in that state hypothetically cross state boundaries to come after DH for payment?
Yes, they can.  The laws are based on where your parents live, not where you live.

Fuck. Guess we should be happy they are probably poor enough to qualify for medicaid, then.  What a barbaric situation.  Anyone tried to enforce this and I know my husband would end up in jail.  Ugh.

Undecided

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1075
Re: Estranged from parents -- what happens when they die?
« Reply #20 on: June 15, 2017, 04:45:08 PM »
I have always wondered this as well, last time I saw my dad was probably 33 years ago and I have talked to him one time in that 33 years when he was going into the hospital and someone found my number and he called me (~10 years ago).

Not sure if the state or someone will call me to let me know when he passes?

If someone calls asking for money i do not see how they could expect me to pay a penny for someone that abandoned me, provided no support and never raised me.

Because the law says they can.  I'd say, call your reps and see about trying to change the law as well as see a lawyer to find out if you could protect yourself with some legal option.

My mother lives in a state with a law requiring adult children to support their indigent parents (and parents to support their indigent adult children), but the courts have clarified that third parties (specifically, nursing homes) have no right to seek recompense under the statute for amounts charged to the parent. I also wonder how that state would establish that I (in another state) would be subject to its laws (not that my mom is indigent, but as a general question).

If the law really lets care facilities recover from a person's children, I'd expect there to be a business in scooping up indigent people, asking them if they have adult children and then providing some minimum care to the ones that did, while tracking down the children to bill them.