What to do if my mom has just become a widow and is very confused on what she can and can’t do with my father’s 401K?

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What to do if my mom has just become a widow and is very confused on what she can and can’t do with my father’s 401K?

My father passed away a little over 2 weeks ago and he had no Will. My mother is the sole beneficiary of any insurance policy and 401K that he had. They have a home in which both of their names are on the deed but my father’s name is solely on the loan. Since my mom is unemployed she will be unable to make the monthly payments on the house. So would my mother be liable for the payments or could she let the bank foreclose on the house and just walk away. Also, is my father’s 401K subject to any debt collection?

Asked on February 8, 2012 under Estate Planning, Washington

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I suggest that the best way to help your mother would be for you and her to consult with a Wills and trust attorney with a background in tax law.

From what you have written, your father's estate where there is no Will and presumably no trust would be subject to a petition to administer the estate where the court will decide who receives what assets out of it. My experience is that your mother as the widow will receive the lion's share.

If there are enough assets of the estate, by all means your mother should continue making the mortgage payments on the home pending advice from legal counsel suggested that she see.

Your father's estate would be subject to creditor's claims including the 401 k.


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