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Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010) Donate to DU
 
bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 08:55 PM
Original message
Attention DU, desperately need some advice!
My wife's niece's SO was involved in a pretty terrible car accident on Wednesday. The two of the them live together, not married, and have a 6 month old daughter. Niece is unemployed, her boyfriend was working and has good health insurance via his job. This is a young couple just getting by and now the only source of income is gone for the foreseeable future.
The young man is still in a coma, no head trauma but many other injuries including a sever ly broken pelvis and hip as well as a nasty compound fracture of the femur, a shattered jaw and several broken ribs. I don't expect he will be able to work for at least a year. To make matters worse his mother is being a real rip, has threatened to have our niece barred from seeing him in the hospital and is talking about filing for guardianship. This young man does not have much of a relationship with his mom because she is a control freak and likes to belittle people to feel better about herself. The boyfriend has listed our niece and their daughter as his beneficiaries on his life insurance and they were talking about getting married this fall or winter some time.

My question is this, what advice should I give our niece? Who does she need to talk to about getting some kind of emergency help? Is there any hope of her blocking his mother's request for guardianship? Our family will do all we can to help them but I don't see any way we can support them for a year and given his mom's attitude I don't see his family doing anything to help despite the fact that the two of them have a daughter that needs it. If my house was big enough I would ask them to move in with us so we could help them but we don't have the space.

Any advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated.
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Emit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:01 PM
Response to Original message
1. She should go to her county or state welfare office tomorrow and sign up for TANF
Edited on Sun Aug-23-09 09:03 PM by Emit
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Social Workers there should be able to tell her what she may or may not qualify for, and might even be able to give her some advice about the guardianship issues with her daughter. She should also find out if her boyfriend's health insurance has a long term disability clause, which, if he did, might offer some monthly assistance while he is in the hospital. Also, some states have state disability, which her boyfriend might also qualify for, and she should see about that. What state is she in?
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:04 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. No disabilty insurance through work, it is optional and he did not
opt to take to save a few bucks. It's not the daughter that his mom is talking about filing for gaurdianship of, it's him.

She lives in rural Missouri and the local unemployment rate is around 11.5%.
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Emit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #3
16. Unfortunately, it appears that Missouri has no state plan for short term disability
(see: http://blog.laborlawtalk.com/2008/05/01/missouri-std-an... / )

and I am sorry, I misread your OP and thought that his mother was trying to get guardianship of the child, but I see now.

She should still get to her local social services office asap, however, because under the circumstances, she will likely qualify for assistance.

I am so sorry for your niece and her SO and I wish them the best in this horrific circumstance.


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Hawkeye-X Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:04 PM
Response to Original message
2. I'm sorry to say, but she must get an attorney to protect him, herself and her daughter.
If he has life insurance that shows that you are the benificary, that is her proof of how a decision should be made
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:07 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. that is one of the things I told her.
I think it shows intention on his part. His mom is a real bitch. I hate to say that but I have seen some real ugliness from her through this. It seems she wants to make it all about her. This woman has gone so far as to stand in a waiting room by the ICU and say how sad it is that his daughter will grow up without a father!
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MadMaddie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:05 PM
Response to Original message
4. Did your niece and her boyfriend have living wills?
I am no lawyer but this is the exact situation where these documents become imperative.

I would say get your niece a lawyer and do it pronto. She is the mother of the child so if she is capable she needs to get some documentation in place quickly, if anything happens to her and the father is incapacitated she needs to indicate who she would want the child to be raised by, even if it's temporary.

Good Luck and best wishes to your niece and her boyfriend.
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. No living wills.
This is really about as bad as it gets. The only good news is the fact that he did not suffer any major head trauma. Dr.'s are still saying it is possible he won't make due to the severity of his other injuries.

Will see about getting our niece a lawyer.
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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 07:06 AM
Response to Reply #4
27. I think you mean a will or a living trust, not a living will
The terms are kind of confusing and arbitrary. A "living will" generally means a document that tells the doctors what to do when the patient is unconscious, eg whether to pull the plug.

A "will" says what to do with the person's property -- eg if he wants to leave what little property he has to your niece. I'm not providing legal advice here, but there's a good chance that since they aren't married, any property would go to the baby girl and the mother, and nothing to your niece.

A "living trust" is like a will, because it disposes property after death, but it's much faster at getting the property into the survivors hands than a will.
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rainy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:06 PM
Response to Original message
5. He can't get fired because he was in an accident. He should still draw
an income for a reasonable bit of time I think. What kind of work did he do? I would hope that the niece could find someone to take them in until the husband got back on his feet. What a beast that mother-in-law is.
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FLDCVADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:12 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. What?
Without disability insurance, I highly doubt his company will continue to pay him when he isnt' working.
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Hello_Kitty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #11
17. He probably does have long-term disability through work.
It's the short-term (covers you during the waiting period) you have to opt into.
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givemebackmycountry Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:10 PM
Response to Original message
7. I'm so sorry - be strong
I did however, make your ability to search on this site much easier...

Your in Mizzou -
I miss Mizzou.

I had to do what I could...
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:11 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Thank you so much!
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:11 PM
Response to Original message
10. The hospital should have a social worker
There may be help through the local Red Cross or Salvation Army or something. They will sometimes provide help until emergency assistance goes through, which can take a few days.

Is his name on the baby's birth certificate? That should establish their relationship as far as any kind of life insurance or other inheritance is concerned.

I kind of think the mother has the legal rights as far as medical decisions though. People need to write this stuff down.

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FLDCVADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:13 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Not only life insurance
but Social Security benefits as well - good catch!
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #10
14. He is listed on the birth certificate.
That little girl is his pride and joy! He loves her and her mother so much it just warms my heart when I see them together. They had been comming to our house on Sunday's. We would just hang out and play with the baby. I would cook dinner for all of us and we just sit around enjoy each other's company. He is a fantastic guy, a great dad and very loving companion for our niece.
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #14
24. That is just heartbreaking
I know how joyful it is when you feel like your loved ones have found that "fairytale" so to speak. Hopefully this will be one of those things where they just come out of it all stronger, without too much more suffering.

Is there anybody else in his family that can stand by her side and try to speak rationally to the mother?
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:14 PM
Response to Original message
13. She needs to talk to social services ASAP
and it depends from state to state. The problem is that she is not married, so that makes it far harder for her to keep guardianship of his care... and to make those decisions. This is precisely what living wills, especially in these circumstances are for.

Oh and good luck, broken hip... looks more like a year and a half, especially due to the femur.

Those are very nasty injuries.

She needs to move fast though, and good luck.
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:20 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. She has tried to talk to a social worker at the hospital but his mom
always seems to find out and but herself in. Will tell her to keep trying.

Not only is his hip broken, his pelvis was basicly shattered as well. We keep being told that because of his age, 33, he should recover well in the long term. First step is for him to wake up. Went to see him last night and was told they by his nurse she had not given him any paralitics or sedatives all day, they want to see if they can get him to wake up.
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FLDCVADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. IMO, the key here
is the baby, this young man's child. While your niece may not have any input into his care, and while she herself may not be due anything because there isn't a legal relationship, his daughter IS eligible for help because she is his child.

Your niece needs to get back with the social worker and stress that she is there to seek services for this man's child. The baby is due these services, and there should be no way for his mother to interfere.
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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 07:07 AM
Response to Reply #19
28. His official next of kin is the child in every state I've seen.
If that is the case there the mother of the child will probably have a stronger claim to act on his behalf than the mother.
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. Hip and pelvis is the same thing...
and his body might take a little time to wake up.

Yes, long term he should be fine, but short term it is going to be a long haul. She may need to go to Social Services with no mom, or even contact state social services. Since the name of the baby is in the birth certificate she may find it easier. Also find out if there is a legal service for people in her situation, and if a lawyer is willing to do this pro bono or pretty much near it.

Some places have those services, some don't.

Oh and in the short term, expect him to get really frustrated with the pain and the fact that he is going to depend on people for just about everything. That is very hard on patients.

On the bright side this should make them stronger as a couple. And once he is able to, marriage might be in order to avoid some of the legal issues. It sounds mom is trying to avoid that end. I hate messy situations.

:hugs:

This is the last things he needs

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Bluerthanblue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #15
21. I posted below before reading your reply above- one thing you
might consider doing is letting the Social Worker know (just in case she isn't aware) that it would be helpful for them to meet privately where the mother couldn't barge in. The SW has resources and access to information that can be very helpful in making sure this young man's child and fiance are supported in this difficult time. I've known a few outstanding SW's - if advocating for your Niece is comfortable enough for you, and ok with her, it might be worth it.

:hi:
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. I would be willing to do anything to help them that I can.
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Bluerthanblue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:31 PM
Response to Original message
18. I agree that the hospital SHOULD have a Social Worker that
can help point your Niece to the options available in your area. Is he in a medically induced coma? That's not all that unusual, especially with the kind of injuries he's got- If so, it shouldn't be too much longer before he's conscious- and that should help establish what HIS wishes are, and put his mother's plans on hold.

Your Niece, shouldn't have a problem getting TANF, and their baby should be covered under his SS- so there should be some funds available.

I'm glad she has you and your wife to be there for her- I wish you all much comfort, healing and peace.
wish I could help in some tangible way.


:grouphug:
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cap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:39 PM
Response to Original message
22. Unless your niece is in a state that recognizes common law marriage
and has been living with her SO for that length of time, she isnt the closest relative. Closest relative would be the parents, and then the siblings. Yes, your niece can be barred from seeing her SO. She's not the closest relative who can legally make decisions for her SO. No marriage certificate, no legal standing. This is why the gays want marriage so badly. Your niece is in a similar situation.

The best thing to do is to work through the hospital social worker. The hospital social worker will try and get the family --- your niece and the mother -- to work together in the best interest of the patient.

Unfortunately, the best thing to do for your niece is to suck it in and be patient beyond all human endurance. Good skills in relative wrangling are in order here. She has to play that mother's game no matter how screwy that mother is. At least until her young man is conscious and can make his own decisions.


Your daughter needs to go to TANF and apply for assistance. If her SO has short term disability through work, at least some of that money goes to her daughter. Your niece has no right to any of that money for herself. Short term diability kicks in immediately. She can call his HR department and see if they will talk to her about it. She may be out of luck and it may be the mother who is the only one who can do this. There is paper work to be filed for longer term disability as well.

The best thing you can do is not dwell on what a B--- that mother is and work with your niece to get a "working relationship" with that woman. The hospital social worker may be your best bet.

Can any of the other relatives take in your niece? If they can't, she needs to get a room-mate ASAP.



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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 07:10 AM
Response to Reply #22
29. You forgot his child.
The man fathered a child with the woman; so common law or not the next of kin is the child. That might give the child's mother more of a claim to act on his behalf than the young man's mother.
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 08:31 AM
Response to Reply #29
30. Might be a good angle to pursue.
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havocmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 08:38 AM
Response to Reply #29
31. One might look into the way the young man filed his income taxes too
Federal allows for claiming another adult as dependent in certain circumstances, married or not. Should be looked into as a tool for showing intent and family relationship?
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #31
32. Hadn't thought of that!
Good catch.
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cap Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-25-09 08:47 AM
Response to Reply #29
35. the child is a minor and can't take custody...
she can claim support from his disability payments.

This is why gay marriage is so important and people are fighting hard. Marriage gives you certain rights. If they were married his mother would have no right to intervene.
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 09:45 AM
Response to Reply #22
33. Niece has done incredibly well in dealing with the "in-laws" so far.
They have made all kinds of comments about her when she is standing right there, have said she isn't family just his "girlfriend" and what she thinks doesn't matter. My wife was there with her at one point and made the comment that her niece and his daughter are his family too and his mom got in my wife's face and said "Oh no they are not".

We keep trying to mediate but it is hard. I know his family is going through a lot right now too and people deal with things in different ways.
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shraby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 11:17 PM
Response to Original message
25. Another thing to think about, was he involved in a one car
accident or was there another car involved? Maybe his car insurance has some kind of compensation that they can get.
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 06:58 AM
Response to Reply #25
26. It was a multiple vechiel accident, 3 to be accurate, and it was ruled
"no fault" as no tickets were issued. They had missed the last payment on their insurance so they did not have coverage.
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-24-09 01:22 PM
Response to Original message
34. Thank you to all for your responses and advice.
Please keep this young couple in your thoughts as they have a long road in front of them.

We did get a trust account set up at a local bank today to take donations to help offset pressing financial needs.
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AngryAmish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-25-09 08:50 AM
Response to Original message
36. Most hospitals have social workers
They set up public aid, etc. Maybe the niece can talk with one of those.

Get a lawyer, too.
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rucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-25-09 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
37. Is there a common law marriage code in your state?
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-25-09 09:05 AM
Response to Reply #37
38. Not sure.
They have only been living together for about a year and a half and don't know if that will matter either.
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rucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-25-09 10:53 AM
Response to Reply #38
40. Just looked it up for Missouri. No common law there.
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madmom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-25-09 09:53 AM
Response to Original message
39. Did the young man belong to a union through his job? When my SO had a terrible
motorcycle accident 25 years, the union helped us out tremendously!
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bighart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-25-09 11:42 AM
Response to Reply #39
41. No union where he worked.
His boss has been tremendously supportive so far. He has told our niece that he will pay the entire cost for his insurance to be continued as long as he can.
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