Death of a separated spouse

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Latest post 10-08-2009 9:16 PM by Kivi. 4 replies.
  • 10-08-2009 12:23 AM

    • pshade
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 10-08-2009
    • FL
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    Death of a separated spouse

    We were married in Mass and I filed for divorce which he contested. He moved to Florida and I followed 2 years later so that our children would see their dad. The divorce case was later closed due to "no action". So we are still legally married but have not resided in the same household for over 5 years. He recently passed away with no will but, he did not have much. He filed for ss disability and was denied. He was a diabetic (since childhood) that did not have control of it. He started a minimum wage job to start paying back child support he owed and passed away after 3 months of working.

    My question is this; am I, as the legal spouse, responsible for filing his death with the court and how long do I have to do this? His parents paid for this service ($4,300) and are telling me I do not need to do anything. He has a bank account in his name with maybe $250. in it and his last check will be direct deposited next week. He owns an open trailor worth maybe $400 (that is in my yard), an older beat up van worth maybe $500, tools and personal belongings.

    Sadly enough his brother has taken most of his tools and his mother is saying she is going to sell the van and take money from his account to cover the cost of the funeral. I do not mind her getting the van and the bank account money to help pay for the funeral. I just want to do it legally, the right way. He also had no health insurance and was taken to the hospital via ambulance where he was pronounced dead. Can they come after me for the medical bills? What do I need to do. We have two children together ages 11 and 16 yrs.

  • 10-08-2009 8:12 AM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,086

    Re: Death of a separated spouse

    Laymans guess:

    You are still married and unless his state law provides otherwise you are probably first in line to get any net proceeds from his estate which I presume is intestate (no will)--I doubt there is any net!

    No, you are not required to step up to the plate to do the work or file anything --any close relative could apply or even a creditor or friend could apply. (Why spend time and money to sort out an empty pot?)

    In theory the person who steps up  as "administrator " is probably duty bound to address his modest assets in the following sequence 1. Administrators fee and expenses 2.Pay  decedants bills  in sequence set by law--delinquent CS may be a priority in the sequence 3.Pay spouse if there is anything left. 

    I doubt there is a fee worth chasing to serve.

    I don't know where funeral costs stand in line in FL--but not 1st.

    The only item that might see a dime is the CS--and if somebody does get the administrator role you basically submit a timely demand on them topay the CS---to preserve that place in line. And if funeral costs are ahead of CS the outcome seems clear?

    In theory the administrator is supposed to prevent raids on estate and if necessary go round up stuff  but doubtful  it will happen here.

     

     

     

    Odds are you are NOT responsible for his debts. The possible exception is somebody might chase you for his "necessities" but even thats is not clear especially in light of 5 year separation.  You may get some threatening phone calls--learn to tune them OUT and don't say anything!

     

    PLUS I think there are some added rules in FL about out of state administrators that require you to use in state lawyer.

     

    Me, I'd simply not volunteer for the role. Don't be nasty--just don't say Yes or volunteer

     

    Now if he was sitting on a Powerball winning ticket that might be a different story!



  • 10-08-2009 12:02 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
      Consumer
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-01-2005
    • CA
    • Posts 6,050

    Re: Death of a separated spouse

    Pay a visit to the local SS office with certified copies of his death certificate and the certified birth certificates of your two children.

    You likely are entitled to receive SS benefits on behalf of your children until they reach age 18/graduate from high school.

    Your only possibe exposure to his debts may come from those medical bills for the ambulance and whatever the hospital charged to determine he was beyond hope.  Since he had a job, perhaps he had some employer sponsored health insurance that should be first in line to pay.  If you know who the employer was, give it a call to see if that was the case.  If so, you can steer the medical creditors to the company plan.  While there may be co-pays, if the medical creditors get the bulk of their bills paid from insurance, they may not bother to chase after you for whatever remains. 

  • 10-08-2009 1:23 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,086

    Re: Death of a separated spouse

    Actually as surviving spouse you too are covered IF he was covered--but that may be a big problem IF his work history  is very limited and he was not covered.  SS is a bit complex--plan on spending some time to sort the options out. Focus on he was spouse-- and kids were DEPENDENT---do not give out too much other information at all----don't  lie--but don't add!!!

     

    From one summary

    "

    What is the amount of the benefit for spouse and child(ren)?

    The surviving spouse of a fully insured worker eligible shall be paid a monthly benefit or disability in an amount equal to sixty percent (60%) of the retirement or disability insurance benefit calculated for the deceased spouse at the date of death while each surviving child shall be entitled to fifteen percent (15%). If the surviving spouse is receiving his or her share, the children (3 or more) together shall be entitled to forty percent (40%). The only time when the children can receive hundred percent (100%) of the deceased wage earner's retirement is if the surviving spouse is either deceased or parents are divorce and no payment was ever made to a surviving spouse. When this happens, each child will be entitled to 15% up to the maximum of 7 children or 100% of the deceased wage earner's retirement benefits.

    The total survivor's benefit paid to the spouse and the children may not exceed the retirement benefit calculated for the decedent as of the date of death, except that if the surviving spouse receives benefits based on his or her own employment coverage, that amount plus the survivors' benefits for the children may exceed the amount of the deceased retirement benefit. In no event shall the amount paid be less than the minimum established by Social Security Administration.

    Spouse

    The surviving spouse of an individual who died fully insured, if such spouse has filed application, shall be entitled to a survivor insurance benefit for each month beginning with the month of death of the fully insured spouse and ending with the month preceding the month in which the surviving spouse dies or remarries; provided that such benefit shall be subject to the earning test.

    If the spouse of the deceased insured worker is eligible for retirement or disability benefits based on his or her own employment coverage, and is also eligible for surviving spouse benefits, the spouse shall receive whatever benefit pays the largest monthly payment. The surviving spouse cannot receive both benefits.

    Child(ren)

    Every surviving child who is dependent upon an individual entitled to old age benefits who was dependent upon an individual who died fully insured or currently insured, shall be entitled, upon filing application, to a child's insurance benefit for each month beginning with the month of death of such individual and ending with the month preceding whichever of the following first occurs:

    1. attainment of age eighteen years, except that benefits are payable until the month before the attainment of twenty-two so long as the beneficiary is a bona fide student, and except that benefits are payable during the disability of a child who was disabled before the attainment of age twenty-two;

    2. marriage;

    3. adoption.

    A child shall be deemed dependent upon his or her parent or adopting parent unless such individual was not living in the same household with or contributing to the support of the child. Child's insurance benefits shall be paid to the individual upon whom the child is currently dependent, except such benefit shall be subject to the earning test.

    What are the documents required when applying?

    1. proof of marriage and proof of your age;

    2. proof of worker's death - death certificate;

    3. Children's birth certificates, if they are natural children of the decedent;  &... "



  • 10-08-2009 9:16 PM In reply to

    • Kivi
      Consumer
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 01-01-2005
    • CA
    • Posts 6,050

    Re: Death of a separated spouse

    SS Benefits to a surviving spouse under the age of 60 end when the youngest child reaches 16.

    Additionally, the original poster indicated that she and her husband had been separated for over three years and that he was behind on child support.  Those circumstances suggest to me that she is employed outside of the home.

    Benefits to beneficiaries who are under full retirement age for Social Security (65 to 67 depending upon year of birth) are subject to earnings limitations.  Children generally are not affected by this one, but if the original poster is employed at even half decedent wages, she won't want to give up her job to accept SS benefits for, unless they are exceptionally high for maybe five years.  In 2009, if you make more than about 37k, you forfeit all SS benefits paid.  They start being partially affected at around 16k in earnings.  Dad does not look like he was ever a very high wage earner.  The SS benefits will help.  The formulas are generous for children, much less so for an adult.

    She can certainly ask SSA about her entitlement.  I am sure that they will be happy to explain what it might be.  But those earnings limits are a real "deal breaker" for many women in her situation.

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