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Estate question: How can my mom plan for her retirement if her husband has not communicated what to expect from his estate?

San Francisco, CA |

My mom who remarried her current husband of 30 years has issues regarding the arrangement between his 1st wife. He is 82 yrs and my mom is 78. He has a large estate but the majority of the income properties he has is in his 1st wife name & his including the property they live in currently. Should my step-dad die tomorrow she does not have a property to call her own, except a property in SF but with a mortgage on it for an investment property which may go in default & in Canada but the majority of her family live in the Bay Area. What can be done to determine what is in his estate and what she can expect to receive if he should pass. He has not communicated this to her & causes her great stress. She needs to know what to expect & how to plan for the rest of her retirement

How can she determine what kind of arrangement her husband has with his 1st wife and doing so without offending her husband?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. These are not really legal questions. Her husband is not being transparent here and this is cause for legitimate concern and her stress is well warranted. Her best bet is to find out now what is going on and in detail. It may be that his silence is that she will get nothing much and the prior wife already has been gifted the bulk of his assets. If these were completed gifts you mom has no real recourse.
    But having said that, she needs to step up big time and confront this situation head on while he is alive. It will probably turn out that her stress is well founded. Better to bring this all out in the open now before it is too late (when he is dead and nothing can be done).

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    Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net . For further tax advice check out his website is www.sjfpc.com . and his blog is >

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net , his website is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is <http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.


  2. Your mom needs to have an open and honest discussion with her husband. If he still is not forthcoming about his assets and his intentions for providing for her (if at all) when he passes, then your mom needs to focus on herself. She needs to plan for and behave as though he will leave her no interests in monies or assets when he passes. If she takes it upon herself to plan for her future and retirement, then she cannot be disappointed regardless of what occurs when he passes.

    The comment provided above is intended as general information and IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. If your question concerns an Estate Planning, Elder Law, or Long Term Care Planning matter governed by the laws of the State of North Carolina, please contact me for personalized service. fourpillars@fourpillarslawfirm.com (910) 762-1577.

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