T Nation

Father Dying


I am in need of help from some of the great minds of the nation. My father has recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which has spread to his liver. He can't begin chemo because he is on Plavix for a stent he had put in last February.

He moved in with my wife and I for what was going to be a temporary arrangement (he didn't know he was sick at the time), but this has now turned into a permanent arrangement given his condition.

My biggest concern is that my father has very little in assets, probably less than $1500, but a lot of debt still. He wants to save his disability money so that there will be some money to bury him, but I think that he is SOL as the creditors will claim any money and assets he does have after he passes.

Can he pay me money for rent as his funeral savings or will the creditors be able to take that still? I am trying to distance myself as much as possible from his financial side because I don't want to sink my family with his debts. Does anyone have any advice or experience that might help me prepare?


my mom is in almost the same position. cash his checks, and hold the cash for the funeral. the feds cannot claim it if it is not in an account, and money in an account does count as assets.

the creditors cannot claim any money that is outside of the establishment. but DO NOT sign anything, not even his medical or doctors visits. your name cannot be on any documentation. the creditors will find your phone number and hassle you for payment, but as long as you are not on any paperwork, they cannot go after you.

I hope this helps. stay tough, this is hard stuff for you to be going through.


Sorry to hear, BeefEater. I went through something similar about a year ago. My recommendation would be to get a free consultation from an attorney as laws will vary from state to state. Best wishes.


Sorry to read about your dad BeefEater. I have no advice for you but good luck.


  1. I wouldn't take any money from him. This can be done, but I wouldn't do it. The word is "commingle." Don't commingle your stuff with his stuff.

  2. Don't let him use your address as his address for billing or anything else, if you can. Get him a POBox or if doctors or whomever demand a physical address, one of those Mailboxes Etc. places. If he's used your address already, change it in as many places as you can.

  3. Don't let him use your phone, same reason. Get him a cell if you have to.

  4. Certain assets are exempt from creditors. This varies from state-to-state. It typically includes funeral plots and pre-paid funeral expenses, but check as to your state. Might as well start now.

  5. Cash is theoretically garnishable, but only if they know about it. Having your dad sweep his account for cash is an effective, if not altogether honest, strategy.

  6. Some states (New Jersey comes to mind) makes children liable for some limited debts of their parents (e.g., nursing care). Check on this. The laws can be very random --- I recall a really nasty case about some daughter who hadn't seen her father since he went to jail went to prison for raping her at age 12 --- she was 50 or something at the time of the case --- being sued for support of her rapist father.

  7. I am very sorry to hear this is happening to you. This is a cruel and swift disease.


Sorry to hear this, and I do have some experience with this, although it has been a while.

My dad died broke from booze and a similar cancer when I was 21 and owed everybody quite a bit. All of the utilities and creditors got copy of the death certificate and were told that the debt died with him. The ones that got pushy were told that the next conversation we have will be with my attorney.

Closing up someones life can be a difficult process. The constant reminder of the loss makes what the bill collectors are calling about seem insignificant and irritating, which gets old very quickly.