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Retirement death benefits, pension, beneficiary.

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AstoSoup

Member
I am 34 years old and live in upstate NY. My mom worked for the school district for many years, putting away for retirement the whole time. This past July, at 61 years old, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She was set to retire September 29th but once we got the diagnosis that she would not make it much longer, she retired on the 7th of September, this year, while in the hospital. She turned 62 on the 10th of September. She named me (her only son) as her beneficiary, I will receive $1850/mo for the rest of my life, which is her pension being paid out. Additionally, I will receive a lump sum benefit of $74,000 as a death benefit. This is all through the NYS Retirement Board. I stopped working to take care of her before she was admitted to the hospital and remained unemployed to be with her during her final days. Therefore up until now, me and my 7 year old son have been surviving off the monthly pension payments that have been in her name, I had power of attorney. Upon her death, I surrendered all of my savings to the funeral home so she could have a service, leaving me with practically nothing. I was under the impression that the monthly pension payments would continue to come while I found new employment or the lump sum was paid, whichever came first. I was expecting a monthly check this week, for $1850. I am now being told that it has to be changed into my name and I will not receive another payment until the end of November! The retirement board also has informed me that the lump sum will take 10-14 weeks to process! I know my mother had some sort of life insurance also, that would cover her final costs but when talking to the retirement board, they claim it is all included in the $74,000 lump sum death benefit. She was also supposed to start collecting her social security upon retiring (why she waited until she was 62) I currently owe the funeral home over $11,000 still and have almost nothing to survive until I find employment. My question, is there ANYTHING I can do right now? Maybe something I am missing? What happened to her social security she has paid in her entire life? My son has a birthday next month, the furnace in the house (my mother also left me the house) needs work, we have no heat.... Jobs are not so easily obtainable around here and even if I am hired immediately, will not see a check for at least a few weeks. This was all thrown at me very fast and I have no idea what to do here, I obviously cannot afford legal council so I am turning to this forum as a last resort. ANY insight, ideas or any information that could help me and my son right now would be GREATLY appreciated!
 


adjusterjack

Senior Member
Unfortunately, all I can do is confirm that what is happening is likely correct. My brother was a teacher with the NY school system for most of his life. He died at the age of 61, a year after he retired and a year before he could have collected Social Security.

Usually a surviving spouse can get SS benefits based on the deceased's benefits but I don't think it applies to other family members. Call SSA and ask. You may also be entitled to the $255 death benefit provided by SS.

The lump sum death benefit is, of course, life insurance no matter what they call it. My sister in law got that. If your mother didn't buy life insurance privately, that's all there is.

My sister in law also got the monthly beneficiary benefits. The reason the benefits stopped is because you were illegally using checks made out to your mother. Power of attorney is no good after death. You should have probated her estate to have the checks deposited into an estate checking account and then, as representative of the estate, you could have used the money for yourself. A technicality, I know, but a dangerous one.

Same goes with the house. If you are living in it without having the deed transferred to you via probate, you'll have problems later if you want to sell or refinance because you don't own it.
 

AstoSoup

Member
Thank you for that information, clears up a lot with the SS and the life insurance/death benefits. The house was one of my other worries, I could not find the deed to it and being my mother was in the hospital and very ill, could not locate it or go to the county for another one. What should I do now about that? My mother did not have a will, however the house is paid off and I am her only surviving relative. How would I go about putting the house in my name? When looked up on the county website now, it is STILL in both my mom and dads name, my dad passed away in 2007.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
Thank you for that information, clears up a lot with the SS and the life insurance/death benefits. The house was one of my other worries, I could not find the deed to it and being my mother was in the hospital and very ill, could not locate it or go to the county for another one. What should I do now about that? My mother did not have a will, however the house is paid off and I am her only surviving relative. How would I go about putting the house in my name? When looked up on the county website now, it is STILL in both my mom and dads name, my dad passed away in 2007.
You are going to have to probate your mother's estate. Here is some information that may be helpful to you, since your mother's estate may qualify for a small estate probate:

https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/diy/smallEstate.shtml
 

AstoSoup

Member
Additionally, are there any lending companies such as J.G Wentworth that would give me a loan against the lump sum? Currently I have to get my own car insurance policy, my cell phone is due, my furnace is broken and I have no fuel, my son needs school clothes, he also has a birthday coming. Bills will be due again at the end of November and pretty soon I will not have a vehicle registered to drive to a job if I get hired at the places I apply. Did not know choosing to take care of my mom rather than keep working 13 hour days would come back to haunt me so, am attempting to get food stamps and HEAP now and I pray they see that I have never needed any of it and help me out.
 

AstoSoup

Member
You are going to have to probate your mother's estate. Here is some information that may be helpful to you, since your mother's estate may qualify for a small estate probate:

https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/diy/smallEstate.shtml
Thank you! Will be looking into this today as well. Just want to make sure I am ok until things go back to normal. I am not familiar with any of this and not used to any of this. I have been working since I was 14 and have rented a home for the past 7 years. I moved back here to help my mom, did not renew the lease to my rented home and withdrew from my position at my job (was a seasonal job). Did not expect her to pass away, let alone all of this trouble once she did :/
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
Thank you! Will be looking into this today as well. Just want to make sure I am ok until things go back to normal. I am not familiar with any of this and not used to any of this. I have been working since I was 14 and have rented a home for the past 7 years. I moved back here to help my mom, did not renew the lease to my rented home and withdrew from my position at my job (was a seasonal job). Did not expect her to pass away, let alone all of this trouble once she did :/
There is time as far as the house is concerned. No one is going to try to take it away from you. Make sure however, that the property taxes get paid.
 

AstoSoup

Member
There is time as far as the house is concerned. No one is going to try to take it away from you. Make sure however, that the property taxes get paid.
I just recently paid the school taxes (part of where my savings went), property taxes are paid to date and I imagine I will receive another bill in January. At that time, I should be financially able to pay them without issue.
 

Dandy Don

Senior Member
How much was the funeral bill in total? How much have you paid on it?

If you signed a contract for services with the funeral home, if it did not allow for you to make monthly payments on the bill until it is paid in full, explain your dire circumstances to them and renegotiate the contract to ask them if they will allow you to pay it off monthly at a rate that you can reasonably afford.
 

adjusterjack

Senior Member
I could not find the deed to it and being my mother was in the hospital and very ill, could not locate it or go to the county for another one.
You can obtain a certified copy of the deed at the county. You might be able to download an unofficial copy of it online. Check that.

When looked up on the county website now, it is STILL in both my mom and dads name, my dad passed away in 2007.
If they owned it jointly with right of survivorship, it passed to your Mom without requiring probate. However, transferring ownership to you requires probate of your Mom's estate under intestacy (no will). Start studying the small estate link previously provided.

Additionally, are there any lending companies such as J.G Wentworth that would give me a loan against the lump sum?
You might not need one of those companies that essentially bet on when somebody will die. Your Mom's death benefit is already in the works. Go to your bank or credit union and see if you can get a short term line of credit based on assigning a portion of the upcoming benefit. That could tide you over with some cash to meet your bills until the money comes in.
 

AstoSoup

Member
You can obtain a certified copy of the deed at the county. You might be able to download an unofficial copy of it online. Check that.



If they owned it jointly with right of survivorship, it passed to your Mom without requiring probate. However, transferring ownership to you requires probate of your Mom's estate under intestacy (no will). Start studying the small estate link previously provided.



You might not need one of those companies that essentially bet on when somebody will die. Your Mom's death benefit is already in the works. Go to your bank or credit union and see if you can get a short term line of credit based on assigning a portion of the upcoming benefit. That could tide you over with some cash to meet your bills until the money comes in.
Thank you so much for the info! Honestly, I am lost here and no one around my area will even speak to me about it unless I am paying them. I have studied the small estate link, I am a little unsure on the value part, the house is assessed at $89,000 full market by the taxation dept. but is NOT actually worth that. Something else that needs to be addressed in the future. Whether that qualifies as a small estate I do not know, from what I read it does. The bank is where I am going tomorrow, I have to deposit like 7 years worth of collected change and was actually thinking of asking about a loan of some sort against the benefit payment. What proof of the payment would I need to do this? Thanks again for the responses and help, they help a lot!!!
 

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