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Discussion in 'Friends & Neighbours' started by Caughtinbetween, Jan 20, 2021.

  1. Caughtinbetween

    Caughtinbetween Finest Post Winner

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    hi ,

    i am here today to ask you all for some ideas with a very unfortunate situation.

    my friend , you can say my only friend in this country lost her H unexpectedly to covid recently.

    she is a homemaker with three kids , youngest in elementary and both older siblings in high school.
    she is not very educated , i think just passed 12th and maybe one year of college before she dropped out of it , can speak english a little bit but feels lost when someone speaks very fast . grew up in a remote village in india and never worked outside of her home till now. she can drive . she has zero idea about managing finances .
    we are still waiting for her late H's financial dealings to come through in terms of payments from his work place , 401k , life insurance , CD's, bank account/locker access , credit card etc i mean just about everything.

    she and her late H helped me a lot when i was struggling with my mother's loss both emotionally and financially . she badly wanted me and my H to move back closer to her to help her with figuring out everything but you know how these visa restrictions work .

    they are all usa citizens.

    unfortunately they all got covid but they all are now slowly recovering except her H whom we lost.

    i want to go and stay with her for a few days to help her but due to this covid holding myself for sometime as they still havent come out of isolation and tested negative. thankfully there are 1-2 neighbor friends who put on a ppe suit and go inside for sometime everyday or a two as they also recovered from covid recently and hoping antibodies would help and also get them stuff they need which i cant order online for them.
    now my friend also says its probably better for us to visit later when the finances have come through so that we can help her sort out.

    her H's siblings live close by who are financially way better than them. if they all come together to help the family in some way or the other for next 5-6 yrs so that her older kids finish college and start working thats enough but then usual family issues and politics is playing out.
    its sad but i kind of understand this from my own life experiences now. but still some help from them would come surely , not clear at this time what it would be.

    there is no help from her side of the family either as they in india are also not well to do.

    i am here to ask for some tangible ideas in which i can continue to support her in future both in terms of educating her of the options available and financially whatever i can . she counts on me and i try my best to live up to it .


    right now i try to explain them about how to create credit card accounts online and pay and monitor online , using autodebit for rent, utilities etc. i will slowly bring up the idea of taking up a job but even if she starts working it will likely be a minimum wage job but then hoping to find something which offers health insurance atleast.

    what are some ways in which you can maximize the use of 401k+life insurance+ssn such that you have min. living expenses taken care of ?
    i know this all depends on the total amount that you have in hands but still ideas would help.

    thank you very much
     
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  2. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    Good Lord.. CIB, I almost missed this thread due to the title. I mistook it for the data science Need Recommendations one.

    I am so sorry for your friend's loss. To start off, sorry for her and her children's loss. Also sorry for what the loss means to you. Such a loss in a close friend's life hits one big time. And you are not near her ..... : (

    Was she the one who helped you with India ticket? You don't have to reply. But oh my......
    For now, one thing you could help her with is research related to college costs of her two older kids. It would be ideal for them both to complete college with minimal or zero out of pocket costs and staying as close to home as possible. Such research is a part time job by itself. She will emotionally and logistically not have the time for this in the next few months or even year or two. And you mentioned that she finds it hard to follow fast English and is from a remote village background. So, this help from you will be all the more useful.

    I would suggest you post in collegeconfidential.com. Members will point to aid and scholarship resources that typical affluent desis might not know. If you like, I can suggest the text of a query to post there.

    If you can share here which grades the high schoolers are in and which US state, the suggestions related to college plans can be more specific. If they are in 11th or 12th, they need more immediate help, inputs and counsel.

    Feel free to contact me offline.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
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  3. Hopikrishnan

    Hopikrishnan Gold IL'ite

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    When there is a death of the head of the family, the immediate concerns are about the funeral, the arrangement, the cost, and so on.

    And then comes the life of the bereaved family, and dealing with the expenses, the cash-flow in a situation of no knowledge about the family's finances.

    If CIB is the trusted-person for the family, she has to find out whether the housewife friend has access to any of her husband's bank accounts so that she can manage the payments (rent was mentioned in the OP) like house, food, credit-card, car-payments, utility payments etc.. Once life's cash-flow is stabilized, then the widowed-mum can worry about the longer term issues, like college etc..

    Usually families tend to set aside the politics and come together when there is tragedy in the ranks. I hope that happens.

    [still within edit-time... so adding the following thoughts]
    CIB has to understand the Cash-Flow of the life of the widow and her 3 kids. What is INCOME, and what is OUTFLOW each month. Is income greater than outflow? What is the savings, if any? Where is the money coming from? Does the widow still have access to a monthly expense total? If the wife is not a joint-account-holder in the bank accounts, managing expenses can get dicey. If the husband had no wills, access to his funds would be delayed a long time.

    Who is helping the widow with Social Security benefit claim? Widows with minor children should apply right away. One should hope that the US citizen relatives who are living closeby are helping out in this matter. [Contacting local social security office can tell the widow what her monthly benefit would be. Famous people had survived on widow's benefit from their mother, and made a big name for themselves]

    Has the widow informed the life insurance company of the death of the husband? Is the payout process initiated ? Who is monitoring that?

    Does the widow want the 401K payout from her husband's company? Has anyone who can speak English contacted the employer about this ? If the company issues a check to her (if she is named the baneficiary in the company's records) they would automatically withhold the federal taxes from the payout. However this may be OK if the widow does not have any other funds to immediately tide her over to financial solvency.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
  4. Caughtinbetween

    Caughtinbetween Finest Post Winner

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    thank you @Rihana for the response.
    yes she is the same one.

    they are in 10th and 11th grades in NJ. i am not very sure if their father had any 529 plans for the kids , i know he used to save some money every year for them in CD's but those things we are still waiting to get clear. i am most worried about these two high schoolers only. one out of these two is a good student and other is average , i am worried on the impact this tragedy might have on their academic performance at this crucial time.

    yes please such a text to post on that website will help me . even these things related to their college are completely new for me too.
     
  5. Caughtinbetween

    Caughtinbetween Finest Post Winner

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    thank you @Hopikrishnan for the response.
    funeral expenses have already been taken care of by his siblings.

    she is not a joint account holder in any of his bank accounts . she had multiple credit cards for her use and the bills would be settled by the husband each month and he would withdraw cash and give it to her whenever she needed.

    i am also desperately hoping that his siblings will come ahead and her the family and i am sure they would ...just that it still wont be sufficient but still something at least.

    i dont think he left any will .
    he never used to discuss finances with her so she does not know if and how much money is there in 401k, life insurance , CD's, savings etc ...these things will clear up only after those accounts are accessed.

    i am not sure but i will find out if life insurance process has been initiated by the extended family or not , same with social security ..i am counting on getting some good payout from social security as he worked for good number of years but not sure yet. she does not know who is assigned the beneficiary on any of the documents.

    my another big worry is health insurance..to be able to find the cheapest alternative with good coverage asap.

    for now extended family said they will take care of the bills ...but dont know for how long and how much.

    i know for sure that he had some savings but immediately completing the formalities to access the bank accounts is a challenge .. extended family would be hopefully helping her in next few days with these things ... the issue is maybe they may not help her long term after the first few weeks or months and thats when these things may get complicated. and also to come up with a plan to use available funds in a best possible way.
     
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  6. Hopikrishnan

    Hopikrishnan Gold IL'ite

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    CIB: I understand that you are distraught, because you cannot be of as much help to a far away friend as you want to be....
    however.. however...
    If all her credit cards are "family member authorizations" on the decedent husband's accounts, one should know that these credit card accounts will eventually close, when the CC company becomes aware of his death. Death certificate notifications are sent to SSA, and SSA would cancel the SSN of the deceased persons. All financial institutions would periodically check their account holder's SSN's and would freeze the accounts of those who are deceased.
    When a person dies intestate (without a will), the spouse is the primary beneficiary; however, this has to go through the court system. And normally it takes time; and in these days of Covid-19, there are delays in probate courts in almost all states in USA. A local paralegal person would know how long it takes in the jurisdiction. I would estimate 2 years on the average. Crowded dockets will take longer.
    Your friend will have to collect/acquire and save all the documents about their married life. Proof that she is the decedent's wife, and all the birth certificates of their children, all the documents relating to the bank accounts, CD's etc. that she can find among his documents at home. The decedent's sibling relatives will have to find her some legal help .
    Someone who is responsible, and near the bereaved widow must have a CHECK LIST and make sure that the things to do, are done. Social Security will give a widow with minor children a monthly cash benefit if the widow/er is not eligible for social security retirement payments.

    I am tempted to tell you that TOO MANY PEOPLE fussing about the various things, but not offering organized help, could make the widow emotionally a lot worse off than just ONE someone who can be physically close to her, being of practical assistance in taking care of benefit-applications visits to banks, SSA office, and lawyer's office.
    Debit cards are useful for immediate access to funds, if she needs funds for food, rent, medicines, etc... Having her own debit cards (also called ATM cards) is the legally appropriate way to withdraw funds.

    All of the focus on College for children made me think that the immediate concerns of keeping body-soul together is not relevant for this family of mum+3.
    Although I had said it earlier, the basic questions to ask are
    1. What is the monthly expense for the family ?
    2. Can the widow meet the expenses for the next one year? This is the liquid cash accessible to the widow.
    3. What is the value of the decedent's estate? [all the wealth the widow can access within the next 5 years, after the estate is probated]
    4. Are there insurance payouts to the widow?
    5. Does the widow with minor children know what her monthly social security benefits are ?
    If college related issues are uppermost in the mind of the widow, a far away friend should worry a lot less, and relax. Life for the bereaved family is not as dire as the far-away friend would imagine.

    Tax Returns filing for the year 2020 will be upon all of us pretty soon. The widow needs to collect 1099's from all the bank, and investment accounts of the deceased husband. Looking at her husband's previous year's tax returns may reveal where his interest earning monies are located.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
  7. MalStrom

    MalStrom IL Hall of Fame

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    State schools in NJ are excellent and not too expensive, from what I recollect. Community college for 2 years followed by transfer to a 4-year college is also an option if finances are a concern.
     
  8. beingmom

    beingmom Silver IL'ite

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    I'd suggest the mom to invest the money in vanguard and other mutual funds and not invest anything on college funds. Considering that she is not well educated, she needs the money to live. Her kids can work on getting scholarships and even take education loan to pay their college expenses.
     
  9. DDream

    DDream Finest Post Winner

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    CIB,
    Sorry to hear about the unfortunate events.
    I think it take time to get hold of her husband's accounts. There can be employer insurance too. She need to check with his employer.

    What about starting a "gofundme"( www. gofundme.com) for your friend. That can help with immediate expenses.
    This helped one of our friend to collect a good amount when her husband died due to accident in USA. She could find a job later. But decided to stay in USA with her kids.

    You are doing a great job. More power to you. Good luck.
     
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  10. Minion

    Minion Gold IL'ite

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    You said they are US Citizens, they might be eligible for Social Security benefits check out this link

    Young Widow(er)s, Social Security, and Marriage

    He should have added his wife’s name to all his bank accounts, access to funds is crucial during this difficult time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
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