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Old September 5th, 2008, 03:12 PM
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Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

Some of my concern here has to do with my Step Dads adult kids so this might belong in the step family section. But it also has to do with my concerns for my mom so either way...

How have others dealt with parents not putting their wishes in writing?


Long story (feel free to skip it, I am just needing to put it out of my head)

I mention every time they bring it up, that I would really appreciate mom and step dad making a list of significant things and saying clearly where they want each thing to go. I have offered to help them do this on video and transcribe it even (and make copies to give everyone involved). It is always a welcome suggestion but never acted on.

Neither my step Dad nor mom is in awful health but they both have a few health issues that they are managing and the reality is that no one lasts here for ever. I want them to have what they want for themselves. I want them to decide and put it down so I have guidelines for when they are not as able. I am the only one who lives near them so it will likely fall to me to do a lot of daily things if they decline.

The small items that are significant to them...My mom knows the stories that go with each item (which I believe is the only thing that makes 'stuff' valuable really, at least for me.) Not just for her own stuff but for stuff that came from step dads step father and mother. And mom is now the gaurdian of this family history. I feel like it will be up to me to get this stuff to step dads kids and grandkids.

Moms memory is getting...some stories are changing, things that were once from K to L and passed down to H are now iffy or she is certain they were from Y to Z, kwim? She is only in her early fifties.

The volume of stuff is an issue also. She keeps saying she'd like to get rid of it, give it to those they want to have things now instead of waiting. I think that is a great idea but I don't think they have done much towards that end so I still want them to put it in writing. I only mention it when they bring it up but it does weigh on me sometimes.

My mom gave some of the things to some cousins of mine a few months ago and I was releived and grateful but it was only a tiny fraction of the volume that they have.

Here is the other issue...My mom told me yesterday that when one of step dads kids was visiting (first time in 3 years)...step sister and step dad talked about his out of state land and 'agreed' thay don't want to sell it.

I think this might have been a romantic notion moment, neither of his kids who want to be benificaries would live there or even be able to pay the taxes on it IMO. Just the idea of having it is attractive-like a retreat.

The problem here is that he and mom had already discussed (and apparently agreed) that if he goes first that land will be all mom has.

She will not be able to afford the home they are in and the property would be her 'nest egg'. There is no home on it but she would live in their camping trailer until the land could be sold. That will not be fesible if they land is not supposed to be sold. There is no practical way for her to use the land, no jobs within driving distance of it to help support herself with. (Do I seem at all frustrated that he dropped his life insurance policy? I am.)

She thought he was going to tell his daughter that but no. He didn't. And yet, he is thinking of selling the property himself to buy something else over here where they actually live. So why tell his daughter he doesn't want to sell it?

Mom doesn't want to cause any problems but is affraid. She feels like this is how fueds are started.

He had life insurance that she would've been the benefciary on but he cancelled it. If she goes first, he is well taken care of. He will have his own pension still and is the beneficiary from her life insurance policy.

If he goes first she has nothing if she can't sell the land.

Everything she has made over the 15 + years they have been together has gone into their daily living, the home they have together and the stuff they have together...He was divorced a dozen years before they met so she is not 'the other woman or anything'. They both still work. He was retired but is only semi-retired now.

She is only now realizing that step sister doesn't see anything wrong with jumping to benefit from her dads death whether my mom is alive still or not.

It scared mom that during that same conversation while visiting step sister said that the first thing she will do when he dies is break in to the safe. She was not really joking apparently. I suggested maybe step sister was joking or just wasn't thinking. Mom disagrees. And I have heard her wanting the property sold or his things. I think she is seeing it as a way to get ahead but I don't think inheriting is the cure all she hopes it will be.

The irony is mom was planning on giving her the combination to the safe before she said that but after that comment did not.

If he goes first and then mom does each of his kids are equal beneficiaries with me of her policy. I have no illusions of getting rich, frankly I do not believe it will really cover moms finally expenses. I don't say this to mom or step dad. I am just grateful she has planned as far ahead as having life insurance and that her job helps provide health care coverage for her.

I was a little taken aback when she jumped to put his kids on her policy as soon as she and step dad were together. "They are my kids now too." They were adults and if she had spent more than a couple hours with any of them at that point I'd be surprised. His oldest didn't want to be involved with either him or her as a beneficiary so is not now. Mom is just that way though. I don't think anyone but me plans on paying moms expenses out of it the policy proceeds. Or even considers that there will be bills/matters to take care of.

Neither mom nor step dad have decided what arrangements they want for themselves finally either. It would be nice if it were all something that could just come together neatly but realistically there is a great deal of work/decision making to do at that point and I am concerned that neither mom or step dad would be able to make decisions easily under the stress of losing each other. I feel like planning now will help protect either of them from being taken advantage of financially by the funeral industry or anyone else.

I know it is all hard to bring up. How has everyone else handled these issues?

Here is another point of frustration for me...mom has been mulling this over for 6-8 weeks...That he didn't tell his daughter (mom) would be allowed to sell the land because it is all mom will have. Mom is waiting 'for a good time to bring it up with him'.

He was injured at work two weeks ago and so I can see her not wanting to add to that stress. (He hurt his hand badly and has weeks of recovery to go but it is looking better. We were scared it was much worse initially. It was a blessing it is something he can recover from with time.)

Mom did have weeks before that she could've mentioned her concerns in. Including their two week vacation. It is not my business but I would stress less if she would get it out in the open with him, kwim?
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Old September 5th, 2008, 05:47 PM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

My mom has been doing the same type of things - so I feel for you. As my mom is on her own now we don't have to worry about his & hers issues. DH & I have made out wills & have who is to get what of the family stuff - as WE DO have his/hers/ theirs stuff.

I also put in that my OS IS NOT to get custody under any circumstance - (long story - lets just say if she'd had a son she'd be one of the MILs from HELL- and he'd be sooo under her thumb)
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Old September 5th, 2008, 06:25 PM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

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Originally Posted by snafu View Post
My mom has been doing the same type of things - so I feel for you. As my mom is on her own now we don't have to worry about his & hers issues. DH & I have made out wills & have who is to get what of the family stuff - as WE DO have his/hers/ theirs stuff.

I also put in that my OS IS NOT to get custody under any circumstance - (long story - lets just say if she'd had a son she'd be one of the MILs from HELL- and he'd be sooo under her thumb)
With you as an example and don't think your son would go easily under anyones thumb.

I admire that you are on top of your own wills/assets issues. DH and I have talked about wills but have not put it in writing. We have taken care of keeping insurance stuff up to date but don't have anything in the way of assets that would go anywhere but to the surviving spouse. Most of our assets are called bills.

With your ex being in the picture he would get your son if you passed away early right? I think stating definitly that you don't want your OS to get custody is very smart.

DH and I have not put in writing our desires for who would take care of our kids if he and I went at the same time. I think we would want them to go to my folks/relatives but are really hoping it is never an issue. Putting it in writing would be smart though. Good for you for having all your ducks in a row, snafu.

I know you can't will children to others like possesions but the parents wishes and proof of what existing relationship the kids had with various realives would be significant if it ever came to a court case wouldn't it?
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Old September 5th, 2008, 08:05 PM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

My thought was that if something happened to my ex - then to me - I do not want my OS getting my DS.

Most of my "assets" are family "antiques" (things that great-great..... brought over from Germany -before it was germany) & my part of my paternal g-ma's coin collection (got that baby in a saftey deposit box)

Lots of sentimental stuff - but IMO if "family" wants to fight over who gets what - burn it all & melt what won't burn
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Old September 6th, 2008, 06:55 AM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

My DM and DSF have everything in writing already. They did it before anyone asked. Then, when DSF's children all died, they changed their wills again and left everything to me. They trust that I'll do the right thing, and I have a list of who gets what. It's easier than changing the will over and over again.

But the difference here is that my DM and DSF already did this together. What you are really looking at is a marital dispute. Your DM doesn't trust her DH to do the right thing by her. And she won't communicate that with him. At this point, you have a few options but no control.

Encourage your DM to talk to her DH. There is never a good time to talk about death and wills. Encourage her to see a lawyer to determine her rights-- it may be that she will inherit that property regardless of what he says, so there's no need to do anything.

Take a few hours with your DM and a journal and a camera, take a pic of the little things, write down the stories that go with them, and ask her who'd she like to have them. Even if those things disappear, the real value-- the stories-- will be preserved.

I'm sorry that your DM has to face this insecurity at this point in her life.
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Old September 6th, 2008, 01:50 PM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

I've been after DM & DP for the last 3 yrs to do a will but they keep putting it off so I know how you're feeling. I'll bring it up at least once a month and DM will say 'yeah we need to do that."

Other than the two of them my name is the only one on their insurance policies. My brothers and sisters don't know this. DM has told me what they want done but I don't know how that will fly with my sisters.

I've been thinking about calling the lawyer and making an appt for them and just tell them when to be there. Wonder if that would work?


If something happened to your SF would your DM get his pension?
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Old September 6th, 2008, 02:05 PM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

nonnymouse, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think you have a huge potential problem here. It's commendable that your mother started out with your step dad accepting his kids and included them into her life insurance. But playing nice does not mean the outcome will be. I have been there and done that.

You are very right to be concerned for your mother's well being should your step dad die. And I will add that it could become a huge ordeal for you to get through with things the way they are now.

Why did your step dad cancel his life insurance? And were you listed on his like your mom did for his children? This is a red flag to me unless he had a significant reason. You also stated your mother puts all her earnings into their daily living. Does your step dad do the same? If not, where does his money go? Your step sister does not want the property sold. Sorry, that implies she expects it to come to her. And, she will break into the safe when her father dies? Bingo, another red flag. These are all signs that when dad dies your mother will have a fight on her hands and may end up without any money. And your step dad is telling your mom one thing about the property and his daughter something else.

Your mom needs to address her concerns with her husband. There are ways to ensure that everyone is taken care of appropriately through a living trust. I will tell you that money changes people and they become greedy little animals when someone dies. They need to sit down with a pad and paper and address each and everything they own. Bank accounts, stocks, life insurance, jewelry, real estate, furniture, heirlooms, etc. Find a home for everything. Then go to an estate lawyer and get it in writing with a statement in the will that says anyone that tries to contest the will, inherits nothing. That statement will stop that action. It's actually very common in wills now.

I think that if two people come into a marriage later in life and they each have children, it becomes very difficult. His children may not recognize your mom having a right to anything. That is why a trust is so important. It needs to be legally done, not just written down and given to the kids.

And it may be that your mom and step dad did not come into the marriage with the same assets. One may have more that the other. Seems reasonable that everything should not come out even for all children or the living spouse. But provisions should be made to allow comfort for the surviving spouse. Your mom should not be left out in the cold if her husband has assets. But care must be taken to ensure his children also benefit in some way. The way to do this is a trust. This tells everyone that your mother and step dad BOTH made the decisions together. End of argument.

This is a hard discussion to approach. But I would think after 15 years it could be accomplished. Neither of them should worry needlessly. I would think that your step dad would make it a priority if he loves his wife and wants her to feel secure. It's time to get it done. Good luck with this. You are right to be concerned.

And by the way, I happen to think that while your step dad is recouping, this is a perfect time to discuss this and write everything down. What else does he have to do that's more important.

Last edited by Beth; September 6th, 2008 at 02:20 PM.
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Old September 7th, 2008, 04:36 AM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

FWIW - my DH's grandfather divorced & remarried. According to the agreement he and 2nd DW had, everything was supposed to be split equally amoung all their children. Well - grandfather went first & DW #2 did not follow the agreement - everything went to her daughter after she died - (Grandfather had had more than her). The only things his (g-pa's) kids got were a few momento's - and that's it - not what he told his kids he wanted, but he didn't put anything in a will - just trusted his DW to do right-follow his wishes - as he would have followed hers.
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Old September 7th, 2008, 09:50 AM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

Quote:
Originally Posted by snafu View Post
FWIW - my DH's grandfather divorced & remarried. According to the agreement he and 2nd DW had, everything was supposed to be split equally amoung all their children. Well - grandfather went first & DW #2 did not follow the agreement - everything went to her daughter after she died - (Grandfather had had more than her). The only things his (g-pa's) kids got were a few momento's - and that's it - not what he told his kids he wanted, but he didn't put anything in a will - just trusted his DW to do right-follow his wishes - as he would have followed hers.
It's sad this happens, but it does. This is why it must be done legally. Great point.
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Old September 7th, 2008, 01:15 PM
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Re: Encouraging Parents to Put Final Wishes in Writing

It even happens to an extent when it's done legally. When my D married his third wife (after my SM had died) they both signed a prenuptial agreement. My D was one of those organized people who was on top of everything. He left an iron clad will as well as written instructions, trust agreements, he had pre-paid for his funeral, etc.

Wife #3 still ended up with his IRA despite it being specifically mentioned in his pre-nup and his will that she was to NOT get it... it was to fund a charitable trust. He hadn't updated his beneficiary form when he remarried, and the company which was custodian of the IRA would not release it as per the instructions in (1) his will and (2) the documents he had signed before his marriage. The right forms weren't filed, so D's widow gets the IRA. She even wrote the company a letter explaining the situation and waiving her rights to it, but no go. She's the only one who is allowed to get the money.

Anyway, nonny, I haven't posted anything because I'm not sure what to tell you. Facing up to writing a will is a difficult thing... it's facing your own mortality in black and white, trying to imagine how things are going to be at an unknown point in the future, etc. It goes without saying that it's important, but this is one of those "lead a horse to water" things.

Maybe the best thing to do is spell out on paper what is going to happen (legally) when your M or SF die intestate?
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