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Young girl at gravesite of her mom-killed in Iraq

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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 07:40 AM
Original message
Young girl at gravesite of her mom-killed in Iraq
Sad-------and powerful------ pic on Wash post front page:

PHOTO GALLERY: Left Behind With Grief and Burden
Kayla Jaenke's mother, Jaime, a Navy medic, was killed in Iraq last June. (Linda Davidson/Post)

Guardian Denied Death Benefit
Grief-stricken grandmother is strapped for cash as she raises child of her daughter who died in Iraq.
Donna St. George
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POAS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 07:51 AM
Response to Original message
1. Be sure to view the entire picture gallery
about this family.
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jarnocan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 07:52 AM
Response to Original message
2. click on pic for more pics/story thanks nt
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Mind_your_head Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 07:53 AM
Response to Original message
3. Why couldn't the money be put in a trust for the daughter
until she reaches the age of 18? And until then the grandparents could use the interest from the money to help care for/raise the daughter?

Btw, since the daughter won't be 18 for another 9 years, does that $500,000 in benefit accrue interest for 9 years or does the daughter just get the $500,000 at 18?
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rodeodance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 07:54 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. its all mixed up------as grandma needs $$ now
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Ms. Toad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 08:08 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. Down in the bottom of the article
it does say the money is in a trust, but there is a very minimal distribution. (I've closed the article, and I don't recall whether it was clear both portions were in the trust or not). From the description of the trust, it is a kind which should permit more than $200 a month out. Sounds like the grandparents need a good lawyer to get it straightened out so that the money can be used to pay for the needs which the trust is authorized to pay.

with respect to interest, trustees are required to manage the money for the benefit of the beneficiaries (which would include conservative investment strategies to earn interest on it - until recently the conservative investment strategies limitation excluded investments that could actually keep up with inflation.

The military really ought to be making sure that its members have wills in place and should be providing good financial counseling regarding insurance and death benefits so that those left behind don't have to have their grief compounded by financial problems that could have been resolved much more easily on the front end.
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Mind_your_head Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 08:17 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Thank you for that information
I agree with you that the military should make sure that its members have wills, in place and provide good financial counseling, etc. Military personnel are in very 'high-risk' jobs and part of their 'training/education' should be that they have their financial affairs in order they way they would like them to be in case 'the worst happens'.
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Divernan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 08:52 AM
Response to Reply #3
8. Soldiers need to set up both guardianship AND trust fund arrangements
Edited on Fri Feb-16-07 09:00 AM by Divernan
as soon as they have a child, let alone go to war. In fact, all parents should, but very few do.

In this case, the single mother had not had her parents legally named as guardians. The father is referred to as "estranged" and evidently never attempted to claim any of the death benefit or insurance. Lucky for them, cause that would have really tied up everything for years. There are a lot of cases where the dead soldier left insurance/death benefits to their current spouse, and made no provisions for children from prior "relationships" or marriages.

I get really angry when people are so irresponsible about their duties to their kids.
I'm talking about people who live together, have children, continue living together as a "family", but never get married. If they have such a terror of a legal commitment to their partner, the least they can do is make protective provisions for their children. It's not just soldiers. Any adult could be killed in an accident or die rather quickly from an aggressive disease.

The article stated: The problem could have been avoided altogether if Jaime had directed part of her life insurance money, rather than the death gratuity, to her parents. It further stated that the woman left no will. Given the poor education and low level of maturity of the many very young recruits, the military should provide some legal counseling to all of them about such matters. But then these young people really don't believe they will be killed - or they wouldn't have signed up in the first place.

Once a parent is killed, and the extended family finds out about that half a million (or whatever)insurance policy, plus the survivor benefits - you see a lot of relatives stepping forward to try to get control. I've tried cautioning a few people I know who have kids in the military, especially if there are grandchildren involved, to take the necessary legal precautions, but it seems to be too grim a possibility for them to face. Consider the possibilities when some very poor, very young woman is widowed with kids, and gets her $500,000 life insurance payment, plus survivor's benefits. Statistics show that when young people come into this kind of money - whether through inheritance or a court award for an injury, the money is gone within a few years. She also becomes a target for some gold-digging new husband. If a soldier leaves kids behind, that insurance benefit should go into trust for the kids - the guardian could get approval to buy a house or car - but it's in the child's name. Money can be allocated for health care, education, maintenance - even soccer camp. But no gold digging relatives or new spouse can squander it. If you set up a guardianship in advance, rather than forcing the court to appoint one, you would not face the situation these grandparents face, with having to pay legal fees and constantly petition the court to get $200 a month.

Another thing - the grandparents are already getting $1700 a month in benefits for their grand daughter, but complain that their daughter was sending them $3100 a month from Iraq. Clearly, their grand daughter's upkeep wasn't costing them $3100 a month, and the grandparents were living off their daughter's income, not their own. I can understand the court's reluctance to provide additional moneys. If I were the judge, I wouldn't throw money away subsidizing the grandparents' money-losing stable business, no matter how much they insisted on continuing it as a tribute to the memory of their dead daughter. Look at how much college educations cost these days. That's where the money should go - not to a losing business proposition. What a mess the whole situation is.

The bottom line is that if a parent does not make the necessary arrangements before dying and leaving a minor child behind, (and particularly if there is more than one party claiming rights to guardianship), the courts appoint guardians and the standards for your kids' welfare and care are determined by someone whom you've never met and has no idea how you wanted your children raised. And money that should have gone to the child's welfare goes to legal fees. What would happen to YOUR child should you (&your spouse) get killed in a traffic accident on the way home from work today?
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Ms. Toad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Doesn't do any good to be mad at mom.
She's dead.

The grandparents aren't gold-diggers who just crawled out of the woodwork. They're the people mom picked to care for her child while she was overseas. Granted, mom may not have done everything she needed to get all of the paperwork in order to make it permanent when she died (although she was probably pretty close if grandparents had enough authority to register daughter for school and provide medical care - both of which generally require documented authority for non-parents). Mom tried to arrange her affairs so that grandparents would have $100,000 immediately, with the remaining $400,000 to be reserved for her daughter when she reached 18. One of the grandparents was designated as the beneficiary - its just that because of the quirks of the military the designated beneficiary wasn't eligible. The military should have helped her out and verified that all of her paperwork was done properly so that the benefits were allocated as she intended (in this case, likely by naming the grandparents a 25% beneficiary on the life insurance policy), particularly since the military death benefits apparently have much stricter rules regarding who can be designated as the beneficiary than is routine.

The $100,000 death benefit is intended to be used exactly as the grandparents want to use it - to stabilize the family in the event of the sudden loss of the regular income provided by the deceased soldier. It doesn't seem unreasonable to me for mom to have felt that while she was overseas in harm's way that it was important to have a stay at home caregiver for her young daughter - and it was worth it to use her military pay to make it possible for her parents to do that. Although there are different roles in this family, that structure certainly matches the old military model of soldier overseas with mom staying at home living on the military wages rather than working. Who am I to criticize when mom is the soldier and grandparents are the stay-at home caregivers? Given that arrangement, they certainly need the money to stabilize the family every bit as much as the traditional military wife with children who is suddenly a widow.

From the standpoint of trying to care for a grieving child I can certainly empathize with the grandparents' commitment to preserving the stable which the daughter strongly associates with her mother. (Might not be how I would choose to spend my money, but when my spouse lost her job just after our daughter was born there were a number of people who suggested that we were crazy or irresponsible for the sacrifices we mad in order to preserve our dream of giving our daughter a stay at home parent for the first few years - after all, both of us were able bodied and could have gone back to work at lower paying jobs rather than scrimping to get by with one job.)

That said, I agree with your basic point which is that all parents (and particularly those in hazardous jobs) need to take their obligation to make financial and caregiving arrangements for their children much more seriously than most of us do.
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jarnocan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 08:04 AM
Response to Original message
5. can also e-mail story-maybe we should this and other related ones nt
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KKKarl is an idiot Donating Member (662 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 09:09 AM
Response to Original message
9. Every time I hear GW
speak he talks about supporting the troops. Why does he not want to support the troops surviving families after the die on military duty?
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depakid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-16-07 09:09 AM
Response to Original message
10. Fitting that a warmongering paper like the Post
should print this.

Now, if only their writers and editors and especially their smarmy owner could be called to account for their actions....

History will view them every bit as dimly as Bush & Co.

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