Will my dad’s investment portfolio be at risk if his assets don’t cover medical expenses?

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Will my dad’s investment portfolio be at risk if his assets don’t cover medical expenses?

My father is in the hospital and isn’t doing well. He’s been there for nearly 3

weeks and has racked up quite a medical bill. He has 14k in his account and 100k wrapped up in an investment portfolio. However, her has no Will and no plans for end of life expenses beyond setting me as a beneficiary for

his investments.

He also has a car that he still owes 8k on.

1. I’m listed as a beneficiary on the investments, but his hospital bill is

going to be well over the total cost of the portfolio. Will that be taken to

pay the medical bills? Because it transfers into my name on death and in

Nebraska children aren’t responsible for their parent’s medical expenses, it

seems like it will be safe…but the stock broker overseeing his account has no

answers for me on this

2. Can I use any of the 14k to pay off his car and transfer the title to me, so

it doesn’t get taken by the government?

3. Can I at least use some of the 14k or 100k to pay for his funeral expenses?

I’m not able to pay for them myself at this time.

Asked on November 7, 2016 under Estate Planning, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Being a beneficiary means you get the assets when he passes--but you have no right to them before he dies, and the fact that you may get them on death does not mean that he cannot use them up in the meantime, or that his creditors cannot access them. So:
1) You can't use any of the money unless you are appointed the estate's personal representative or administrator by the court after your father passes, not even for funeral expenses--you may have to pay out of pocket initially, then get the money back from what you inherit.
2) Depending on the way you are listed as a beneficiary, some assets may be unreachable by his creditors if they don't sue until he dies, since they will not be part of his estate (e.g. any accounts which were POD or TOD--pay on death or transfer on death) but instead go directly to you, outside of probate, on his passing. Anything which does becomes part of the estate, however, is something which his creditors can try to get after he passes, since they can sue his estate.
3) And creditors can sue before he dies and encumber or tie up his assets.
4) Or your father could spend, transfer, gift, assign, etc. his assets pre-death.
You should bring a complete list and description of the assets to a probate attorney, plus any relevant documents (e.g. if you have them, the forms listing you as beneficiary), so the lawyer can advise you as to what is and is not at risk, and what you will need to do after your father passes in regards to getting those assets.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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