My brother is a longtime alcoholic and nutcase, and when he figured out he could live on my mother's large social security benefits (widow of wealthy business owner), he sold her house, and moved her to a mystery location (using his address as hers, and keeping her actual new address off the internet radar). I was so exhausted from years of family drama, I just let go. I had too many issues in my own life, and had been her very honest POA for years, so I did my part.

After three years, I got a call from a creditor about her, and that's how I heard of her death. My brother had racked up lots of debt in her name, and apparently dropped her Medigap policy and then put her in a nursing home. Upon hearing of her death (the creditor was horrified that I did not know, and found out from him), I contacted a cousin, who verified it, but said "he wouldn't allow anyone to tell you." Shame on them; they know I always took very good care of her, took nothing in return, and also that my brother had never worked in 30 years (living off money he demanded from her), and that he was aggressive toward her. Still, they honored his horrid wishes over mine. I presume because he inherited everything, and let them have stuff, so they had a motive. Anyway, I don't care about her "estate" as I have a home, and I never wanted her money or fancy "stuff."

But, he had no funeral, no obituary, and she was apparently cremated, but not interred. So, I want to know how to assure that probate occurred and that her debts are under control, or he is being held responsible, as I doubt he reported her death to any authorities either. I've heard that funeral homes (cremation only, who knows where) don't always report it either. Does the County tell the Social Security Administration? I can't imagine how he is surviving without her monthly check, as he had tapped out her savings completely, so maybe he hid her death so he could still get checks.

Please help if you know anything about this kind of thing. I have printed an application for a death certificate from the County that I believe she died in, but am not sure that will tell me much about probate and death reporting issues. I am 63 now, and had a significant stroke two years ago, so I had to spend down my IRA and now am on Social Security. So I can't afford a lawyer, and am unable to return to work yet.

Brother should have taken the Will to probate. If Mom had him as Executor probatevwould have gone along with that. He would have to send all beneficiaries and interested parties a letter saying the Will was in probate. He would then have to show probate he carried out Moms wishes. This should be done in the county she lived. I would bet this has never been done. If he went thru Moms assets, there is nothing to probate. Surprised he got away with what he did with no POA.
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Reply to JoAnn29

If you have her social security number, you can run her credit at
i used that site after MIL died to make sure no one was using her accounts. It shows all open accounts & how much is owed on them.

As far as social security, if there was a funeral home involved, they notify social security but you are still supposed to call SS to report it. When my husband called to report his mother’s passing, they required an official copy of the death certificate.
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Reply to worriedinCali

At a minimum, contact the SS office and tell them she has died and you suspect your brother never reported it is still getting checks. That should get them going. If you have a good idea of which city your brother lives in or which city the nursing home is in, contact every funeral home within a 50 mile radius and find out if she was cremated there. She may still be alive and he may be telling family and creditors she is dead to try to avoid the financial fallout.
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Reply to XenaJada

Your duties as POA ended at her death so there was no legitimate reason for a creditor to be calling you. If I were in your shoes I would let this go, nothing good can come of your getting drawn back into your family dysfunction at this point.
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Reply to cwillie

Such a terrible way to hear of your mother's death. Shame on your 'family' for not letting you know.

I am not in the USA, I have no idea how a death is recorded. Here in Canada, death records are held at the Provincial level, not locally, you can order death certificates through the funeral home. But it still is the responsibility of the family to report the death to creditors and of course go through Probate, done through the Provincial Courts.

If you have her death date, can you report it to her pension plan? Even if you do not have the death date, can you call the plan and let them know she has passed? Eventually they will need a copy of the death certificate, but they can start an investigation if they are still sending cheques.
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Reply to Tothill

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