My mom passed away. Three daughters shared power of attorney and are shared executors of her trust.
As the youngest child, I worked full-time, and was the primary caretaker for my mom for 8 years. I handled her activities of living, food, bathroom sees, medicine, medical consultations, and performed her dialysis and so on. I handled her finances, consisting of taxes, financial investments, and even recovered countless dollars for my mama due to a bad organization deal she was involved in the past.
In 2013, it distressed my sisters when I was at first given POA, however I chose to share the obligation and even got an attorney to formally prepare a trust. We were all present throughout this discussion. Years later, my sis would just boil down 2 times a year (in some cases less) to go to mama and did refrain from doing much at all to contribute to her care.
” ‘My conscience is overcoming me, and I would like to be transparent about being the joint owner of this cost savings account.’ ”
My mother got a pension and Social Security benefits, so she also had the means to pay for a full-time caregiver throughout the days when I was at work (40 hours a week) for a minimum of 2 years. I oversaw all of her care during the evenings, even when we went on vacation with her. Long-term care would have cost considerably more, and would have tired my mama’s finances. My mama also wished to stay and receive care in your home.
In order to appease my sisters and since they felt it was unfair that I acquired a home from my daddy (their stepfather) who also passed in 2013, I decided to disinherit a part of my mommy’s investments/annuities.
My mom was upset about this, and asked me to be a joint owner on her cost savings account in 2013, after we met her attorney. Ever since, I looked after her in our house and even properly managed her financial resources, which gained significant interest for many years.
Now that my mother has actually passed, we are going to discuss her estate which is significant and most of the recipients on the account are my sisters– other than for the joint savings account, which has a large sum of liquid money in it.
” ‘Long-term care would have cost significantly more, and would have exhausted my mama’s financial resources. My mama likewise wanted to remain and receive care in the house.’ ”
My conscience is overcoming me, and I would like to be transparent about being the joint owner of this savings account. However, I do not feel they are entitled to any of the cash in it as they hardly participated in the care and financial support of our mama.
We all had POA, however they did refrain from doing much to assist, and it is now irrelevant anyway. Nevertheless, my sis are likewise noted as paid on death (POD) beneficiaries. I want to divide her estate fairly and disperse the amount to be received by each sister equitably.
Am I obliged to inform them of this joint cost savings account? I have already notified the bank, Social Security, her credit-card companies, and her retirement pension that she has passed. As the joint owner, I have access to her account by survivorship.
How should I talk about the “equitable” distribution with my siblings? They will be boiling down in a week and a half to attend her funeral. I prepare to have this conversation with them the next day after the funeral service, and prior to they leave. We are cordial and I am close with one sis however when finances and increased emotions are included, it can get hairy.
Saddened by the Loss of Mom and Suffering from Inheritance Regret
The Moneyist: My sibling became my late father’s power of attorney, got a reverse home loan on his house, and drained his equity. What can I do?
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Dear Saddened and Guilt-Ridden,
It sounds like you would feel better if you were transparent about all of your mom’s financial resources. The joint savings account and its contents are technically your finances now, of course, so you are under no responsibility to inform them about it. Nevertheless, must they discover this account and ask concerns about it, it might aim to them as if you are hiding something, even when you have nothing to hide. This account does not have to go through probate at all, so that is not a provided.
When you are faced with a tight spot, I have actually always discovered that the most convenient method through it is to tell the truth as candidly as you need to, without rancor and without worry. Your sis may shrug their shoulders and say, “Fair enough.” Or they might weep foul. If they had a problem with your dad leaving you his house, it’s probably fair to state that a minimum of among your siblings will raise an eyebrow at the amount of money in this account. If you reveal the digits.
But you know what? Difficult. State it aloud after me. One, two, three: “DIFFICULT!” They had lots of time to assist with your mom over the last 8 years, and I’m sure they had a million reasons that they couldn’t be there. Paid-on-death beneficiaries only acquire cash from a joint account when the last owner passes away so, even if you predecease your sis, you are under no responsibility to do anything else however invest every last cent in that account, if you so select. If you do? “TOUGH!”.
The Moneyist: My other half and I have 3 kids. I also have 3 kids from a previous marital relationship. How should we split our home amongst these 6 kids?
Inform them: “Mother made me the joint owner on her savings account, and I’m very grateful that she did.” If it makes you feel much better to inform them, however be sure that you will not be guilted into dividing this among them. Ask yourself: Do you feel guilty about having this account (you don’t need to) or do you feel fearful about your sisters’ responses should they discover it from you or another person? It would assist to understand the root of your stress and anxiety prior to making your choice.
If you decide not to inform them, that’s fine. Simply ask your attorney initially. There is no right or incorrect ethical response to this question. You must do what feels right to you, but make certain you do it for the right factors. Don’t act out of fear or regret, and don’t not act out of worry and guilt. Do what your most confident, comfortable self would do. State nothing and whistle all your way to the bank, or state something and calmly whistle your way through your sisters’ possible protestations.
You have the complete support of The Moneyist either way.
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Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch’s Moneyist writer. You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical concerns at By emailing your concerns, you accept having them released anonymously on MarketWatch.