Money in account

by Michael Pagano
(Florida)

My mother-in-law died in January, 2010, she has 6 different medical bill outstanding for various providers, she live with us for the past 4 and a half years, before that she was passes around from daughter to son back to daughter then to us, my wife is her oldest daughter, she received social security of about $1,200.00 a month, for the first 3 years I would just cash he check and give her all the money from her check, and she would spend it on cigarettes lottery tickets once in a while on items around the house, I never charged her room and board, she lived her totally free, I had told my wife to take some of he money and put it aside for her funeral when her time was up. I found out that after 3 years of cashing her check and giving the money to my wife to give to her, their was nothing saved , she my mother in-law was using the money to visit her other daughter and her son in N. J. we live in Florida, and also giving them a couple of thousand of dollars each because then needed the money to help payoff bills that they have incurred, I put a stop to that, because I felt that the money was or some of the money was mine because I had never taken any money from her and if she was going to give it away then I should have charged her room and board, again once in a wailed we good food shopping and she would pick-up the bill. but that was rear, again I should have charged he rent or something had I known that she was giving he money away to her children who didn't want her in the first place, so the last year and a half before she passed away, I had my wife open a savings account and have her money put directly in a savings account, and when she needed money all she had to do was fill out a withdrawal slip and my wife would give $50.00 or so she could buy her cigarette and lottery tickets, or money when she wanted to fly to NJ to visit her son and daughter, the money started building up and she had about $6,000.00 in her account, when she passed away, she was cremated here in Florida and flown to NJ, for burial, and when all was said and done their was about $1,255.00 left in her savings account when those bills were paid., he outstanding medical bills are about $1,950.00, the account was open for her by my wife who's name is also on the account so she could withdrawal the money when needed , my mother never drove so she didn't have a driver licence or had any utilities bill under her name in fact he credit report I pulled up before her death was none existent, my question to you is, the remaining money in her account, do I have to use the remaining money to payoff as much of the bills I can with what money is left, or can I send them a copy of the death certificate, and hope they will write it off. I would like to keep the money if I could, only because I never charged or took money from her all the years she lived with us. what do you think again the account has my wife's name and my mother-in laws name on it, .
Thanks , Mike

Comments for Money in account

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May 13, 2010
Money in account of deceased mother in law
by: Mary

The money your mother in law received from the Social Security System was her money to do with as she wanted. She earned the right to receive that money. You may not have agreed with what she did with it, but she was entitled to spend the money however she wanted while she was alive. It was not your money and you were not entitled to a penny of it. If you had wanted your mother-in-law to help contribute to your household, you and your wife should have had a conversation with her about that fact before she moved in with you or soon afterwards.

Now to your question about your mother-in-law's unpaid medical bills. You are not legally obligated to pay them. They are her bills not yours. However, typically when someone dies, their "estate", which is simply everything that they owned at the time of their death (which in the case of your mother-in-law may just be the funds in the account) will go through probate, her assets will be used to help pay her creditors, and any remaining money will be distributed to the deceased's heirs, either according to the terms of his or her will or the laws of the deceased's estate, if there is no will. If your mother-in-law had no will and her spouse is not living, then more likely than not, all of her surviving children would be legally entitled to an EQUAL share of the value of her remaining assets.

I am not an attorney however and do not know anything about the probate laws of your particular state so I do not know exactly how the funds in an account would be handled during the probate process if they were in an account that was jointly owned by the deceased and someone else, as is the case with your mother in law and your wife. If you want to clarify what will happen to them, I suggest you contact a probate attorney in your area. I would expect that some if not all of the money would go toward paying your mother-in-law's debts, but I cannot tell you for sure.

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