My mother and I have a joint bank account. Should I take out all (a very small amount) of the money?
All of her bills are put on her credit card, but we depend on her Social Security to pay that bill. Since she won't get SS in December, there won't be enough money to cover the payment. Should I contact the credit card company to tell them she passed? One of the charges is monthly payments to the hospital. Should I contact the hospital?
Her funeral expenses are pre-paid and her life insurance policy is only for $1,000. It's not nearly enough to cover her debts.
I've heard that when someone dies, the estate, the $1,000, needs to go toward debts, then the companies can not demand the balance. I don't have much money and can't afford to pay her debts.
I know I've been rambling and in the past when I've read questions on this forum I know the answer. Today my mind is not working right.
Thank you all for your help.

PJ, in my rush to tell you not to let the creditors trick you I forgot to tell you I am sorry for the loss of your Mom.
But once again, watch the creditors and don't get tricked. They will soon enough sell this worthless debt paper to "collectors" who pay pennies on the dollar hoping to collect from uninformed people. They will threaten you that YOU need to pay. You are not responsible for the debts of your Mom and that is what you need to tell them; repeat it and hang up. Don't let them trick you with "Well, if you send us 25.00 good faith we can work out a plan where you only pay a little of this debt". Remember that paying them with your name on a check will be further leverage for them to say you owe them as you paid them something. They will try to scare you. Don't let them. Not all are unscrupulous, but they can be tricky.
As to the death certificates I got 20 for mybrother and still have 19 of them left. Everyone just made a copy and handed me back the certificate original. I think you will do fine with 10. You can get more from public records if not. Everything seems to go from paper to digital these days and they don't seem to care overmuch about original death certificate.
Helpful Answer (12)
Reply to AlvaDeer
PJsummer Nov 19, 2021
Thank you AlvaDeer.
I am so sorry for your loss. May The Lord give you strength and wisdom during this difficult time.

A couple of things, if you are joint account holder then that money is legally yours, not part of her estate. If her life insurance has a named beneficiary, not part of her estate, it belongs to the named beneficiary.

I recommend going to your state attorney generals website and find out what the estate value is that requires probate. This varies state to state and can be 50k to 100k.

Notify the credit card that she is deceased. Get the bank notified and stop ALL auto withdrawals and auto payments. That should happened as soon as they are notified. Do this today. I did not need to provide a death certificate when I notified my dads bank the day he passed.

If she doesn't have any money, then there is nothing for her debts to be paid with.

I would not get an attorney involved for a few thousand dollars, you won't even have to do probate, just an affidavit that you are her legal next of kin and her estate was under whatever your state says is minimum, it's a form.

Her check for October is hers to keep and will be paid in November, after that, no more checks are hers and SSA will do a claw back and they will be brutal, so don't touch any payments after the month of November.

You got this, right now just breath and accept this great big warm hug.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
karenonthames Nov 19, 2021
I agree with the sentiments here. I have just been going thru the same thing, and due to the fact that my name was on the checking account, i could move the money out as I wanted. No need to get an attorney involved unless there are complications to the will/property.

Social Security is only paid out if the person lived through the entire month. My mother died on 9/27 so since she didn't live the full month - we were not entitled to her social security.
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Yes to closing the joint account. The money is that account is now yours.
1 - Get several copies of her death certificate. Many of her creditors will need a copy to stop hounding you for payments.

2 - Notify Social Security to stop sending her payments PRONTO.

3 - Use all her assets to pay off bills and then debts. If in doubt who to pay first, talk to a lawyer or CPA.

4 - When the money is gone, do not use your money to pay any remainder. Do not pay any attention to bill collection agencies.
Helpful Answer (11)
Reply to Taarna
NinjaWarrior3 Nov 19, 2021
This is very helpful.
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My sympathy for you in your time of loss. This is a time of confusion. Everyone's going to give you their opinion on what to do. Try not to share too many details with others.

You're doing well in knowing what is happening with her financial life.
I'm sure by now, you have done much of the immediate tasks, and may be in the middle of visitation and a funeral.

Take your time.

No one can take her assets without your permission and signature if you are on her accounts.

Take your time.

You will need to provide death certificates to all the places she has outstanding bills. Don't buy a ton of them from the funeral home, as many go to waste.

Leave all financial accounts as they are for the time being. Nothing is going to change overnight.

Then you can begin organizing her statements to see what is due.
Again, take your time.

Some decisions will depend on what state you're from.
Here in Michigan, I contacted her life insurance company first. You can then contact all medical groups, Doctor offices, Pharmacies to remove her from their auto-refills., Credit card companies-auto-payments, and anyone else you can think of to see if they need a death certificate. They will all tell you what is needed.
I didn't pay anyone else except the funeral home first.
The rest will come gradually. Just don't rush yourself.

Don't allow anyone to threaten or demand payment from you. You don't owe anything.

You are getting a lot of good information from this group already.

Take your time, don't rush yourself and make costly errors.

Hugs to you and good luck in the next few months.
Take care of yourself.
Helpful Answer (10)
Reply to ddspalomino

I'm very sorry for your loss. I agree with Alva that consulting an elder or estate planning attorney to consult as they will know exactly what is required in your mom's state and you can give them more details than what you are able to here.

When asked please make sure you get way more death certificates than you think you need...I've read on this forum like 15 or more. Running out and then going to the expense and hassle and wait for more is avoidable if you ask for the maximum amount right away.

I also agree to never pay someone else's debts. Most large companies factor in loss into their prices and can also tax deduct a percentage of loss every year, so don't feel too sorry for them.

May you be comforted by good memories and receive peace in your heart.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Geaton777
PJsummer Nov 19, 2021
Thank you for the helpful information.
You say that the money is in a joint bank account. Do know that Social Security will reclaim any money paid for the month that Mom died. After that you take a death certificate to the bank and the bank can be moved to an account in your name only. If there is no estate and your mom left no home, no money, then you (are you her executor by will? IS there a will) as her next of kin may not even have to file a probate. I would see a Trust an Estate Lawyer for the 350.00 an hour for advice on how to handle creditors.
Usually, when there is no estate, probate doesn't need to be filed and all creditors are notified of the death, a letter with death certificate is sent, and all bills are sent back "Died; no estate". NEVER pay any of your mother's bills, as that can be consider "assuming her debt" and then they can come after you. Hopefully you have not been paying her bills yourself; that may cause you problems ongoing.
It is time now to see a Trust and Estate Lawyer. The 350.00 you pay for an hour of his or her time will save you a world of hurt, and will inform you of the law regarding creditors in your state.
Do know that your Bank may already be aware of your Mom's death as funeral directors notify SS, and the credit reporting agencies get this information very quickly. There may already be some sort of flag on your account, so take your death certificate to your bank as soon as you are able.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to AlvaDeer
PJsummer Nov 16, 2021
Thank you for the good information.
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Here's a good list from AARP...
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Reply to Geaton777

I am so sorry for your loss. My mom passed in May.

First, take a breath. Set your goals of what to accomplish for the day, do that and stop. There are countless things to take care of, very few of which need to be done this second.

The day after my mom passed I called the funeral home from which we had purchased a burial account. They contacted social security who, in turn, contacted the bank.

I did not worry about bills until after the service. I wrote up a letter stating that my mother had passed, that she had no spouse and no estate and to please accept this declaration and a copy of her death certificate as notice of no further payment. I called the creditors and told them I would be sending this. A few took it over the phone, most said to send. Only one said it world not be accepted and her account would go into collections. After that I tackled the apartment, etc.

Keep in mind that there may be a few expenses not covered by the burial account, such as flowers and obituary. The life insurance money can be used towards that.

I very quickly received a tax form for my portion of our joint account. I also received an Estate search form (I live in PA) which I filed out, they researched, and sent back stating that there is no estate.

I hope some of this helps. It is a confusing time. Wishing you peace and healing.
Helpful Answer (6)
Reply to Monkeymama

I agree with Alva that you should hold on to any money Mom has left.

Moms November check received is for October. That should not be taken back. If it is, fight it. This means check received in December would be Novembers check. Since Mom died in November and the first half, hopefully she will not receive that check. If she does, do not use it. They will take it back. I would leave her acct open until ur sure she is not entitled to any monies. My Mom received tax refunds after her death.

You are not responsible for Moms debts. I would call the hospital and tell them to stop billing Moms credit card. Also, tell them that the debt will not be paid because Mom is deceased. They may ask for her death certificate.
Helpful Answer (5)
Reply to JoAnn29

I'm so sorry for your loss.

I agree hold onto the money. SS should have been notified of the death and usually sends you a letter stating so. They should also have notified the bank that they know she has passed., just in case a check she was not entitled to was sent. If that were to happen, SS would do a Reclaim; The bank would have to send back the money (to avoid trouble with the Govt). if there was not enough in the account, the bank would contact you to make up the difference. (I know this from experience since it happened when my mom passed. Her CC contacted me when there was not enough money in the account to cover the reclaim, and even put any money deposited into the Savings until the reclaim was covered. In her case the reclaim was covered, but they did not transfer the money to the checking account, by then an Estate Account, so any bill paid, the check bounced. Such incompetence, the account was closed)

The hospital should have been notified as well, since the SS# would come up deceased wherever it was used. If she has no Assets, (home, car, etc) only in her name, the creditors can't collect. You are not responsible for these debts. As has been mentioned, mail the creditors a copy of the Death Certificate. You should/may receive a letter back from them, usually saying sorry for your loss, and that unless there is probate, they won't collect and the account is closed.

Blessings to you.
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Reply to Cover99

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