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parents part 2

May 24th, 2016 at 03:05 pm

Talking more with my parents, my mom is extremely uncomfortable with sharing any details of their finances. I am trying to steer her to buying proper home and auto insurance and I'd really like to know they have a proper will. I'm not being snarky nor greedy, which since I'm bothering her I'm being accused of. Trust me we don't need the money. Everything is coming out defensive.

But my mom admitted that they have no idea who they bought their auto or home insurance because the broker is a personal friend. And they continued with them and the way it works is if they were in an accident they would call the broker and he would deal with the insurance company. Well that's changed now and the broker is now the "son" and they really don't do that anymore.

Now she has to deal with an insurance company for the home insurance policy and it's not a big company. It's not well known and I'm not even sure what sort of coverage they bought. I'm fretting now because my mom has no idea what they bought for auto except it's some shady small name auto insurance.

It's hellacious. I'm struggling because I am going to guess my parents who are using the same "family" friend accountant and lawyer, honestly I'm not sure how competent either of my parents are at this point financially.

My mom is constantly talking about dropping off books at the accountant and they owed money this year. She can't understand why when they've never owed before. Then they were updating their wills.

The fact is that when it comes to money my parents have always been bad at money. They probably could have been millionaires multiple times over but didn't because of the way they spent and handled money. The truth is they are still invested in C shares of mutual funds if I had to guess.

When I ask questions I always get I don't know or I'm not sure or we don't have it answers. I feel like I'm banging my head on the wall.

I plan on going in August and perhaps just digging into the paperwork once and for all. My mom has boxes of files of CRAP. Nothing is organized. She has no idea what an insurance policy looks like. She has no idea what their taxes look like really. She signs papers and my dad has no idea either.

They still carry a mortgage on their condo because some IDIOT told them the deduction was worth it. It's NOT!!!!! But do they listen to me? Nothing.

I talked to my DH and his answer was that I just need to wait until my dad passes and then deal with all the shitstorm then. At that point I'll be in hell and spend months just going through everything and untangling everything and probably fixing it at that time. He called it a shitstorm and said it's not going to be pretty. He knows my parents and I'd say likes them a lot.

But dealing with my parents and money is one of the ugliest situations. The fact that I'll be having to figure out even when my dad gets sick what to liquidate and where the money is gives me a headache now. I just want to cry because truthfully I feel like they should try to get some of this taken care of now.

But I know part of it is embarrassment. Embarrassment they've let it get to this. That they are of the generation of people who were "people/brand/company" loyal.

And yes I know they are secure. My mom has a pension and SS and IRAs. My dad has SS and tons of IRAs and investments, he's still working at 85 and was forced at 70 to start RMD which they stashed away in more investments. Paid for home and should be paid off condo.

But I'm uncertain about insurance, wills, and cash positions in case of liquidity. I'm also unsure if my mom is the beneficiary properly and if everything is jointly titled. And because it was a second marriage they kept many things separate and not joint.

Please tell me this sort of hiding behavior about money is normal. That everyone goes through this with their parents. That prying information out of their hands will be when they are dead and cold. Do people know their parents circumstances? How do you help your parents manage when they have enough but have no idea what they are doing with it?

9 Responses to “parents part 2”

  1. VS_ozgirl Says:

    My mum is very frugal, the home is paid off and they have enough in their retirement fund to pay a low amount plus they receive social security, so I know they are fine. Is there any way that you could help them tackle one thing at a time slowly? Instead of redoing everything perhaps aim to redo something per quarter, simply to save yourself a huge job if your dad suddenly got sick? And simply explain it like that - you don't care how much or how little you have, you just want to know that everything is ok because you worry about them?

  2. Jenn Says:

    It would be different if your parents asked for advice but didn't want to follow it. In your case though, they don't want your involvement. I think you need to let it go.

    Let them know that you feel concerned based on what you see, and that if they ever want your help you'd be happy to provide it. Then move on. They're adults and they think you're butting into their private business. (But you also don't need to listen to your mom's venting if she won't let you help.)

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Jenn makes some good points about staying out of it. However, I feel like your mother's reaction is a red flag that something very odd is going on. I would be concerned that they have been taken advantage of financially. Do you think either of them have dementia? That can often explain some defensive behavior if that were the case. And that would mean a good reason to get involved.

    Have you asked if they want your help to get things straightened out? If they really don't then it is particularly hard.

    My parents are in still good shape mentally. I don't know anything about their finances, other than they sold their home for two years ago for about $400K. It should have been mostly paid off. They now rent. I assume that money was invested in some way. I also know they save for retirement. My dad has a tax background, and they each have their own small business. I think they are probably fine. Smile

  4. ceejay74 Says:

    Not my parents; my dad's extremely frugal and intelligent and my mom lets him handle all the money stuff. I don't know anything about his finances really except he did just do his will, and I'm 100% certain my parents have plenty of money since my dad just left a well-paying job at age 80 or so, and gifted about $320K to his kids that he wasn't interested in having. If of course he passed first (I'd be shocked if that happened), I'd have to get involved. Well, I have an older brother who might want to do it, though he hasn't been very involved with the family so I doubt it. My sister who lives near my parents probably wouldn't want to do it, but her husband is very frugal (though not terribly organized with money, like taxes, as far as I can see), so he might be able to help. I'd definitely offer to do what I could since I don't think my mom could handle it. Actually she couldn't live alone either, so I don't know if she'd move in with my sister or if they'd try to find a live-in nurse. I feel like a nursing home would make her miserable so I assume we'd do anything to avoid that.

    I'm not worried about NT's parents because they all seem fairly sensible and the UK still has a better safety net than the U.S. anyway.

    AS's mom is the one who worries us. I'd stay out of it except she asks for money from time to time, so I feel like we deserve to know what's going on with finances. If I ever get a look at them I have a feeling I'll be asking y'all if you know anything about declaring bankruptcy, because I assume it's really bad and that we'll have to consider that option for her.

  5. livingalmostlarge Says:

    Yes and no. My mom constantly calls and sends me photos of stuff to look at. She'll call and say what do I ask the insurance person? What am I looking for? I describe it and say if you would send it to me I can tell you whether it's right or not. I have no idea if she finds the right things.

    She constantly complains about me not being present like my cousins who live by their parents. But refuses to relinquish control. I offered to pay and have them on our cell phone plan but she refused. She wants control over the account and doesn't want to feel like she can't do what she pleases if I paid.

    I offered to look over the insurance policies but she acknowledges that this visit I might be allowed to start scanning in documents. I am called being asked about roofs, engineered hardwood versus laminate and carpet. I get called about hot water heaters and why we like on demand and didn't get it. I get called about the ceiling falling in and what to do. Whether they should paint the house.

    I'm frustrated. My mom had no idea where to find the title to the car so I went online and sent her the pdf to get a new title from the DMV. It's just all these things getting organized and a handle on I'd like to help them. Maybe even set up stuff on auto pay and auto debit the credit cards.

    She drives to places and pays bills in person. I offered and setup online accounts just in case but she hates that. I will admit that I've pretended to be her sometimes for her to get her paperwork on accounts.

    She's just not use to be not in control. And she's never done any of it. My dad too. They never did any home repair which is how the house was leaking badly before they replaced the roof. Neither of them cared or care. Once I rented a steam cleaner and steamed the carpets. I painted some walls and treated some mold. I recommended hiring someone professional if it came back.

    Just everything. It's really hard being far away and no being able to just do a lot of these things. My parents are not handy and hired people to change lightbulbs not kidding. I guess it's just hard.

    I don't know if they are being taken advantaged off.

  6. PatientSaver Says:

    My mom passed in December, so I've just been through much of what you'r describing. She had Alzheimers and so for 2015-2015, I was delving deeper and deeper into her bills and finances. So much of what you said is so familiar to me, how i worried she might be taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors, trying to deal with all sorts of little challenges. You have it even more difficult becus it sounds like you do not live nearby whereas I did.

    So first take a deep breath. I can sense the impatience and stress in your post. I would not be too pushy if your parents are already expressing reluctance to share much with you.You may need to take a step back and take a different approach. Have you raised the subject from a position of loving them as your parents, and yes they are getting a bit older and you can see they may need your help. Remind them why you want to help them.

    Then, yes, I think if they're unsure exactly what policies they have, you may need to ask permission to go through what paperwork they have and find the policies yourself.

    I definitely agree with you that it would be better to start delving into this now and not simply wait til after someone dies.

    I think giving up control of one's finances is very hard to do, even if it doesn't appear they had much control over it to begin with. You might think about gently asking if it would be okay if you called the insurance agent yourself to get a better understanding of what kind of coverage they have. It sounds like they are unable to provide you with the answers you want, so just go to the source, introduce yourself as their daughter and say you are helping your parents becus they're a little confused, whatever. Anyone would understand that. Many adult children take care of their aging parents, and handling bills and paperwork is part of it.

    It definitely sounds like your mother needs help. I don't know enough of their background, but would you consider moving them to a more secure environment so they weren't on their own? Because things will become more difficult as time goes on. I did reach a point where things changed between me and my mom; it was a sort of imperceptible switch from her being the mother and me being the daughter to where I just had to take charge of things. I tried to do it in a way that didn't encroach too much on her desire to maintain control, but there came a point when I just had to take charge and do what I thought was best. So yes, I at times pretended to be my mother when I was having to call certain creditors about bills or setting up accounts.

    Do you have power of attorney now? That is SOOOO important, especially down the road. If you don't have it, you will need to have a very delicate conversation with your mother and bring her to an attorney so she can sign the paperwork. It doesn't take long to do but i found having that POA paperwork really simplified certain things, like managing her bills and opening online accounts.

    Power of attorney means you can manage her financial affairs while she's living. If you are named executor in her will, that means you will manage/finalize her financial affairs after death. It makes sense for the same person to do both.

    If you have ANY questions about any of this, feel free to email me. I really learned so much from the whole experience. I hate to see anyone in my shoes in the same difficult situation.

  7. PatientSaver Says:

    By the way, what I meant above is that the POA helped me open up online accounts, simply to make it easier for me to pay bills online that she had previously paid using snail mail. Of course you cannot open up any new accounts in someone else's name.

  8. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    No way POA happens. I have mentioned that perhaps we should at least discuss where the will it. The answer I get is after dad dies they suppose they'll talk to me. Sigh. After all why should they accidentally pass together? And it would be assumed I could guess who their attorney is because he'll be a family friend who shows up at the funeral. uggh.

  9. LuckyRobin Says:

    One thing I would insist on knowing right now is if stuff has the proper beneficiaries on it. With any second marriage the former spouse could still be the beneficiary on something because it was just never changed because someone else handles all that. Life insurance policies that were taken out a long time ago tend to be the worst for that and then all the money goes to the former spouse.

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