My partner has earned millions of dollars during our relationship. We’re not married, but am I entitled to anything if we split?


Dear Moneyist,

My partner and I have been together for 5 years. We are not married. In that time he has been the primary and, often, the sole breadwinner.

When we met, he had several million dollars in investment accounts as well as earning a substantial salary ($400,000 to $800,000 a year depending on bonuses). In that time, he paid off previous debt that I had incurred. We have lived a good life with lots of travel, and many other luxuries.

At one point he was offered a job in Europe and I left my new job in the U.S. to join him, a decision that left me unable to earn an income and continue to depend on him for his money.

The Moneyist: ‘I’m astounded that I have NOT received my payment’: When will I receive my stimulus check?

We share a couple of joint bank accounts, but the vast majority of his money is in accounts in his name only. I have never thought that money should be under both of our names as that was money he had earned before we had even met.

In the time we’ve been together he has made $2 million to $3 million in income, and he has sold real estate that was owned before we met totaling $1 million. If we separated in the U.S., would I be entitled to anything from him?

John

Dear John,

The short answer is no.

Now for the long answer: Common-law marriage was an old English law, and today only exists in a handful of U.S. states as an elective option. That is, you legally declare yourselves common-law spouses. You are not considered married in the eyes of the court or the government just because you lived together for 5, 10 or even 20 years.

You willingly acknowledge that he was the main breadwinner, he paid off debt and, when he got a job overseas, you made the decision to give up your job in the U.S. and follow him, and allowed him to pay for your living expenses. These choices afforded you a certain lifestyle, and you did not have the career, or the savings, you would have had otherwise.

The Moneyist: My mother’s will says her boyfriend can live in her home after she dies. Can I still kick him out if the deed is transferred to me?

A few years ago, a couple split after 23 years together in Rhode Island. Angela wanted to the court to declare her union with Kevin a common-law marriage so she would inherit part of his home. In a Providence County Family Court judgment, the judge agreed based on evidence in letters and how they presented themselves to family and friends.

Despite being included in family portraits and Kevin’s sister even addressing them as Mr. and Mrs. in a Christmas card, and Kevin wearing a ring on his wedding finger, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island in 2018 overturned the lower court’s decision. Kevin did not consider them married, and nor did the Supreme Court, even though they were together for two decades.

The Moneyist:My husband and I are worth $3.7 million, but I’m afraid I’ll spend my way into the poor house if he dies. When I was single, I bounced checks. What can I do?

This is a good time to evaluate your relationship with yourself, and your priorities in life. What do you want to be remembered for? What do you enjoy doing? And could you turn that into a career? What contribution to society would you like to make? There are no certainties in life — as 2020 has shown. Your retirement, career and financial plans should ideally exist outside of your relationship.

You are not entitled to your boyfriend’s money, even though you share some of the same bank accounts. That’s a gift rather than an entitlement. You are entitled to a big, rewarding and unpredictable life where you are the driver of your own destiny. You are entitled to use your talents, interests and skills to help others. You can reclaim the word, and your career along with it.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com

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Some COVID-19 patients suffer lung and heart damage, but there’s encouraging news for these ‘long haulers’


Up until she fell ill with COVID-19, Yvonne Cassidy, a New York-based novelist, said she thought there were only three types of COVID: “The mild version, the version that put you in hospital and the version that killed you. I didn’t know there were others like me, stuck on a post-COVID plateau, not sick anymore, but not better either.”

Two months after being diagnosed with coronavirus, she found it difficult to even walk one block. “It turned out we were a group who had a name: We were COVID long-haulers. The Mayo Clinic and medical journals had published pieces about us,” she said. “We had support groups on social media. We even had a hashtag. We were frustrated and afraid.”

“With my doctor’s guidance I introduced a very slow five-minute jog into my already slow walking schedule. The first time I did it, my chest burned and I doubled over, hands on knees, gasping for breath,” Cassidy, who had toyed with training for a marathon, wrote in an essay for MarketWatch. And today? “The goal isn’t 26 miles. Today’s goal was 30 minutes.”

Cassidy was fortunate. Some younger COVID-19 patients who were otherwise healthy have had blood clots and strokes. Many “long-haulers” — COVID-19 patients who have continued showing symptoms for months after the initial infection — report neurological problems including confusion, difficulty concentrating, heart and lung issues, fatigue, insomnia, plus loss of taste and/or smell.

“There is evidence now that the virus can directly attack heart muscle cells, and there’s also evidence that the cytokine storm that the virus triggers in the body not only damages the lungs, but can damage the heart,” according to John Swartzberg, a clinical professor emeritus of infectious diseases and vaccinology in the the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program.

“One thing we didn’t anticipate was that the virus seems to accelerate a great deal of scarring in the lungs,” he said in an interview with the university. “What we really fear is long-term shortness of breath that could extend anywhere from being very mild to severely limiting.” He found it “disturbing” that one report of CT scans of asymptomatic patients were left with some scar tissue.

Some of these symptoms can persist for months, according to the Mayo Clinic. “The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.” Most people recover completely within a few weeks, “but some people — even those who had mild versions of the disease — continue to experience symptoms after their initial recovery,” it added.

“Older people and people with many serious medical conditions are the most likely to experience lingering COVID-19 symptoms,” the clinic added. “Although COVID-19 is seen as a disease that primarily affects the lungs, it can damage many other organs as well. This organ damage may increase the risk of long-term health problems.”

Also see:Johns Hopkins scientists examining weird side effects of COVID-19 suggest one way coronavirus ‘gains a foothold in the body’

Yvonne Cassidy: ‘My chest burned and I doubled over, hands on knees, gasping for breath.’

Although COVID-19 patients can suffer long-term lung and heart damage, there is some good news for these long haulers. There’s more evidence that such aftereffects improve over time, according to a paper by a team of researchers presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, which studied patients in a COVID-19 “hot spot” in the Tyrolean region of Austria.

Some 86 patients out of a sample of 150 people were scheduled to return for evaluation 6, 12 and 24 weeks after their discharge from hospital. During these visits, clinical examinations, laboratory tests, arterial blood analysis of oxygen and carbon dioxide, lung function tests, computed tomography scans and echocardiograms (on the heart’s chambers and valves) were carried out.

At the time of their first visit, more than half of the patients had at least one persistent symptom, predominantly breathlessness and coughing, and computer tomography or CT scans showed lung damage in 88% of patients. However, by week 12 after discharge, symptoms improved and lung damage was reduced to 56%.


‘The good news is that the impairment tends to ameliorate over time, which suggests the lungs have a mechanism for repairing themselves.’


— Sabina Sahanic, a clinical Ph.D student at the University Clinic in Innsbruck, Austria

“The bad news is that people show lung impairment from COVID-19 weeks after discharge; the good news is that the impairment tends to ameliorate over time, which suggests the lungs have a mechanism for repairing themselves,” said Sabina Sahanic, a clinical Ph.D student at the University Clinic in Innsbruck and part of the team that carried out the study.

The average age of the 86 patients was 61 and 65% of them were male. Unlike Cassidy, nearly half of them were current or former smokers and 65% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were overweight or obese. Eighteen (21%) had been in an intensive care unitÜ, 16 (19%) underwent invasive mechanical ventilation, and the average length of stay in hospital was 13 days.

The CT scans indicated that overall lung damage decreased from week 6 to week 12. Damage from inflammation and fluid in the lungs caused by COVID-19 was present in 74 patients (88%) at 6 weeks and 48 patients (56%) at 12 weeks. “We did not observe any severe coronavirus-associated heart dysfunction in the post-acute phase,” Sahanic said.

“The findings from this study show the importance of implementing structured follow-up care for patients with severe COVID-19 infection,” she added. “Importantly, CT unveiled lung damage in this patient group that was not identified by lung function tests. Knowing how patients have been affected long-term by the coronavirus might enable symptoms and lung damage to be treated much earlier.”

COVID-19 patients can suffer long-term lung and heart damage but, but there is some good news for these long haulers. (Photo: Getty Images)

This study is also supported by an article for primary-care physicians that was published last month in the British Medical Journal. It said that around 10% of patients who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 remain unwell beyond three weeks, and a smaller proportion for months. This was based on a study in which people log their ongoing symptoms on a smartphone app.

This percentage, however, is lower than that cited in many published observational studies. A recent U.S. study found that only 65% of people had returned to their previous level of health 14 to 21 days after a positive test, which has been the case with people who like Yvonne Cassidy who no longer have the virus, but have the antibodies.

Dr. Dixie Harris, a pulmonologist at the Intermountain Healthcare hospital system in Utah, told MarketWatch that coronavirus long haulers suffer shortness of breath, fatigue, memory issues, and even depression, but she too said there is “improvement over time.” She added, “Things such as prolonged symptoms — fatigue, that kind of thing — [have] been reported in MERS and SARS.”

In a second presentation to the European Respiratory Society International Congress on Monday, Yara Al Chikhanie, a Ph.D student at the Dieulefit Santé clinic for pulmonary rehabilitation and the Hp2 Lab at the Grenoble Alps University, France, said that the sooner COVID-19 patients started a pulmonary rehabilitation program after coming off ventilators, the better and faster their recovery.

She studied 19 patients who had spent an average of 3 weeks in intensive care and 2 weeks in a pulmonary ward before being transferred to the Dieulefit Santé clinic. The lack of physical movement in addition to severe infection and inflammation, lead to severe muscle loss, she said. The muscles for breathing are also affected. Most were unable to walk when they arrived at the clinic.

They underwent a test to see how far they could walk in six minutes. At the beginning, they were only able to walk barely a fifth of that distance on average, but after three weeks of pulmonary rehabilitation, this increased to an average of 43%. That is obviously still far from normal, but supervised rehabilitation helped to increase their lung capacity.


‘The sooner rehabilitation started and the longer it lasted, the faster and better was the improvement in patients’ walking and breathing capacities and muscle gain.’


— Yara Al Chikhanie, Ph.D student at Dieulefit Santé, a clinic for pulmonary rehabilitation

“The sooner rehabilitation started and the longer it lasted, the faster and better was the improvement in patients’ walking and breathing capacities and muscle gain,” Al Chikhanie said. “Patients who started rehabilitation in the week after coming off their ventilators progressed faster than those who were admitted after 2 weeks.”

COVID-19 has now killed at least 890,064 people worldwide, and 189,114 in the U.S., Johns Hopkins University says. As of Labor Day, the U.S. still has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases (6,292,206). Worldwide, there have been at least 27,208,206 confirmed cases, which mostly does not account for asymptomatic cases.

AstraZeneca
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, in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE
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and partner Pfizer
PFE,
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; Johnson & Johnson
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; Merck & Co.
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-3.84%

; Moderna
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; and Sanofi
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with GlaxoSmithKline
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-1.38%

are among those currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.

The Dow Jones Industrial Index
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and the Nasdaq Composite
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ended lower Friday. Doubts about traction for further fiscal stimulus from Washington may be one factor discouraging investors who have been betting on Republicans and Democrats striking a deal to offer additional relief to consumers and businesses.

India has reported 4,204,613 COVID-19 cases, surpassing Brazil (with 4,137,521) as the country with the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind the U.S. India has a rate of COVID-related death per 100,000 people of 5.3 and a case-fatality rate of 1.7%. In contrast, the U.S. has a fatality rate of 57.7 per 100,000 people and a case-fatality rate of 3%.

‘The sooner rehabilitation started and the longer it lasted, the faster and better was the improvement in patients’ walking and breathing capacities and muscle gain.’ (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)




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Virology experts say the key is keeping Spain’s hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 this time


MADRID — Just days away from the start of a new school year, Spain’s capital city rolled out fresh restrictions on Monday to cope with what’s becoming a relentless second wave of cases.

But those measures — strict controls on the distance between seats rather than tables in food-service settings, reducing funeral attendance to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, and 10-person limits on social gatherings — seem modest as the country’s total infections close in on 500,000, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins. Official numbers indicate that threshold has already been reached. Spain’s is the highest infection total in Europe, though it pales against the 6 million–plus cases in the U.S., which has seven times Spain’s population.

Madrid’s new measures are cold comfort to parents, including this journalist, who will be sending at least one child to all-in-person classes of 21 children. More than 2,000 of 66,000 Madrid teachers recently tested positive for COVID-19 and will have to be retested. Elsewhere in the country, two schools have already had to close due to infections.

At the heart of the resurgence of Spain’s cases has been a rush to return to normal. Spain’s experience has also been impacted by government desperation to get the tourism industry and bars back in operation; overly relaxed family gatherings; insufficient safety protocols for field workers; and the behavior of idle youth with effectively nothing to do but party, and spread the virus.

Much as New York did, Spain climbed out of the depths of COVID-19 infections with the strictest measures possible, but Spain fell right back two months later. How the country pulls itself out this time may be a blueprint for other countries and municipalities to follow. MarketWatch spoke to these experts via email in hope of shedding light on where Spain stands now and what should be done.

Juan Jesús Gestal Otero, professor emeritus of preventative medicine and public health at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, was one of 20 experts who signed a letter in the British medical journal the Lancet asking for an independent review of Spain’s COVID-19 response.

MarketWatch: What key mistakes did Spain make after the lockdown in the spring, and what must it do now to fix the situation?

Otero: It took a long time to get contact tracing up and running. It should have started when the case curve began to decline. It would have helped to have the disease more controlled at the end of the de-escalation. Each autonomous community set up its own tracking system, many of them insufficiently staffed.

MarketWatch: Will Madrid’s new measures, such as cutting capacity at bars and restaurants, really help get the disease under control?


Johns Hopkins

Otero: I don’t think those measures help much to contain outbreaks. … To have the disease under control, the most important thing at this time is to strengthen the tracking capacity of the national health system. If this is not done soon, the continued increase in outbreaks can eventually overwhelm the tracking capacity of the system and lead to a loss of control and aggravate the situation. National coordination is also very important.

Don’t miss:To defeat COVID-19, ‘we need a unified national strategy,’ says public health expert Dr. Howard Koh

MarketWatch: What are the differences between now and March that are encouraging and discouraging?

Otero: Now there is epidemiological surveillance capacity, although it needs much improvement, for the early diagnosis of cases and contact tracing, and there is the capacity to perform many tests, which allows for detection of a large number of asymptomatic patients. Most of the current cases are young people in whom the disease is less severe, unlike in March-April, and the health system is not under pressure. It is discouraging to observe how certain social groups, mostly young people, are encouraging outbreaks with their behaviors.

MarketWatch: What should other countries learn from Spain?

Otero: Strongly strengthen the epidemiological surveillance system. As soon as possible, start tracking the contacts of the cases and carry out many, many tests, to locate the largest possible number of asymptomatic patients. Make the return to the “new normal” very carefully to avoid new outbreaks. Do not authorize activities that are incompatible with a respiratory pandemic, such as those that involve spending time in closed, poorly ventilated places with many people, parties, nightlife activities. … Raising awareness of the need to take protective measures in homes when they receive visitors, receive them in well-covered rooms, avoid family parties … as it is in homes where the greatest number of infections occurs.

Dr. Vicente Soriano is the director of the UNIR Medical Center in Madrid and a clinician and professor of infectious diseases at the UNIR Health Sciences School and Medical Center.

MarketWatch: What do you think of Madrid’s new measures to try to contain the virus?

Soriano: The confluence of crowding, the return to working activities for many, and easier access to testing — as compared with negligible in March — largely accounts for the new surge in cases. It will go up for the next couple of weeks. Despite, to date, that many new PCR+ diagnoses have been found in young and asymptomatic people, this second wave will soon expand to the whole population, including again the most vulnerable populations. Indeed, although so far the situation at most large Madrid hospitals has not collapsed, it reminds us slightly of what happened in February, when overwhelming began to occur.

MarketWatch: What about contact tracing and other efforts?

Soriano: The advent of rapid antigen tests will be helpful, although there is room for further improvement, testing saliva (instead of nasopharynx fluid), selling in pharmacies, and allowing for self-testing at home, like pregnancy tests, as many times as convenient.

MarketWatch: What else needs to be done?

Soriano: Regional governments need to work further on three areas: (1.) increase the role of primary-care physicians as a first barrier to assess nonseriously ill patients and manage them with the help of telemedicine, avoiding the collapse of hospital emergency departments; (2.) medicalization and ensure enough health-care workers and protective equipment for nursing homes for the elderly and other institutionalized patients — these places accounted for more than 60% of the death toll during the first COVID-19 tsunami wave in Spain; (3.) ensure stocks of diagnostic tests, protective equipment and enough doctors and nurses in clinics and hospitals for confronting the new COVID-19 surge. Acting upfront is always preferable to at the time of demand, when damage has already occurred.

MarketWatch: As a parent, how do you feel about sending your own children back to school?

Soriano: Reopening schools is a critical decision that is supported by the fact that youngsters very rarely become sick and allows parents to continue their jobs. So, I am in favor of reopening schools and therefore let my four children go to school, with the maximum guarantees they have established. I am aware that temporal closing of groups, classes and periodic cases will be reported. Inevitable. But working under this threat is preferable to paralyzing or closing the school.

Read on:Top coronavirus doctor in Spain has a message for revelers and tourists



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As schools reopen, scientists say some children could spread COVID-19 even if they already have the antibodies


As schools and colleges reopen across the country, scientists say social distancing remains a critical public-health response to COVID-19. New research released Thursday sheds more light on children who test positive for COVID-19, and the contagiousness of coronavirus. Children often remain asymptomatic or display very few symptoms, and the research also offers insights into the course of the disease at an important time for families and communities.

A study published in the latest edition of the Journal of Pediatrics finds that the virus and antibodies can coexist in young patients. “With most viruses, when you start to detect antibodies, you won’t detect the virus anymore. But with COVID-19, we’re seeing both,” says Burak Bahar, lead author of the study and director of Laboratory Informatics at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. “This means children still have the potential to transmit the virus even if antibodies are detected.”


‘Children still have the potential to transmit the virus even if antibodies are detected.’


— Burak Bahar, director of Laboratory Informatics at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.

The researchers reviewed an analysis of 6,369 children tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and 215 patients who underwent antibody testing at Children’s National between March 2020 and June 2020. Out of these 215 young patients, 33 tested positive for both the virus and antibodies during the course of the disease. Nine of those 33 also showed presence of antibodies in their blood while also later testing positive for the virus.

What’s more, researchers found that patients aged 6 years through 15 years old took a longer time (a median time of 32 days) to clear the virus, meaning that it had left their systems, versus patients aged 16 years through 22 years old (a median of 18 days). Females in the 6 to 15 age group also took longer to clear the virus than males: A median of 44 days for females versus 25.5 days for males. “We can’t let our guard down just because a child has antibodies or is no longer showing symptoms,” Bahar said.

The study also found that 25 days was the median time from viral positivity to negativity — the moment when the virus can no longer be detected; it took 18 days to go from viral positivity to seropositivity — or the presence of antibodies in the blood — and it took 36 days to reach adequate levels of neutralizing antibodies. These “neutralizing antibodies” are important in potentially protecting a person from reinfection of the same virus, the researchers wrote.

Four important caveats: Firstly, the study looked at a relatively small number of children. Secondly, the next phase of research will be to test whether coronavirus that is present along with the antibodies for the disease can be transmitted to other people. Thirdly, scientists need to explore whether antibodies correlate with immunity and, fourthly, they need to establish how long antibodies and potential protection from reinfection actually lasts. As such, Bahar reiterates the need for social distancing.

Related:Dr. Fauci: It’s ‘conceivable’ we’ll know by November if a safe, effective vaccine is coming

A separate study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that children can spread SARS-CoV-2, even if they never develop symptoms or even long after symptoms have cleared. It found a significant variation in how long children continued to “shed” the virus through their respiratory tract and, therefore, could potentially remain infectious. The researchers also found that the duration of COVID-19 symptoms also varied widely, from three days to nearly three weeks.

A recent systematic review estimated that 16% of children with a SARS-CoV-2 infection are asymptomatic, but evidence suggests that as many as 45% of pediatric infections are asymptomatic, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children are similar to other infections and noninfectious processes, including influenza, according to the CDC.


A separate study in JAMA Pediatrics said children may spread SARS-CoV-2, even if they never develop symptoms or even long after symptoms have cleared.

Under pressure from the teachers union to delay the start of the school year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that in-person classes will be pushed back until Sept. 21, 11 days later than planned. Remote learning, also originally slated to start on Sept. 10, will now commence on Sept. 16. Other countries have not fared so well with school reopenings. Israel, which also reopened schools this week, experienced outbreaks when it reopened schools on May 17.

Bahar also advised teachers and students to wear masks. To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, it may be preferable to use high-quality cloth or surgical masks that are of a plain design instead of face shields and masks equipped with exhale valves, according to an experiment published Wednesday by Physics of Fluids, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal covering fluid dynamics that was first established by the American Institute of Physics in 1958.

As of Sunday, the U.S. still has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases (6,262,989), followed by Brazil (4,123,000), India (4,113,811) and Russia (1,022,228), according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University. California became the first state in the country to surpass 700,000 confirmed cases. COVID has killed 188,711 people in the U.S. Worldwide, cases are near 27 million.

AstraZeneca
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, in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE
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and partner Pfizer
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; GlaxoSmithKline
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; Johnson & Johnson
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; Merck & Co.
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; Moderna
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; and Sanofi
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+5.09%

are among those currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.

The Dow Jones Industrial Index
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and the Nasdaq Composite
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ended lower Friday. Doubts about traction for further fiscal stimulus from Washington may be one factor discouraging investors who have been betting on Republicans and Democrats striking a deal to offer additional relief to consumers and businesses.



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‘My brother was my best friend’: He moved into my late father’s home, changed the locks and blew through his money. Should I pursue criminal charges?


I am one of four children and my father died naming my brother the executor of his will.

My father died with no debt, and a home that was mortgage free in the best neighborhood. He had worked for the same company for over 45 years with a pension and savings throughout his life.

My brother and his wife moved into dad’s home even though they own their own home. They changed the locks, and hired an alarm company so no one could enter the property. They also refused to give anyone a copy of the will until after he presented it to the court, so they claimed.

They began blowing through my dad’s money (using his accounts, credit cards that were in dad’s name only) and refused to present and perform the duties of executor. My brother and his wife were in serious financial debt prior to dad’s death. When I confronted my brother, he blocked me on social media, and has refused to talk to me ever since.

The Moneyist:‘A man cave on wheels’: My husband’s RV is his pride and joy — but he owes $75,000 on it. If he dies, am I liable?

My brother was my best friend. His actions have destroyed me to the core. During all of these events, he and his wife divorced. She initiated the divorce when the money ran low. She filed for bankruptcy while still spending and taking exotic trips, which she posted all over Facebook.

I sent my brother money throughout this time to help with divorce costs, and begged him to show up at her bankruptcy hearing and acknowledge that they committed fraud. He still refused to speak to me.

I am so hurt by this whole situation. My dad, a hard working Vietnam vet, lies in an unmarked grave, which is ridiculous because he had a substantial amount of money, including funds from a $25,000 insurance policy from my grandfather.

I feel cheated and used. I don’t even have a picture of my parents. I need closure and I want to pursue criminal charges against my brother and my former sister-in-law through the state attorney general’s office.

I’ve spoken to several lawyers in this small town, and everyone says, “Let it go, your brother is a good guy.” Meanwhile, I’m supposed to suffer in silence with no relief. I tried and I can’t. I wake up daily crying from it all.

I have no relationship with my sisters. One sister stole my identity in the past, causing me great distress and financially ruining me. My brother knew this, so his actions hurt that much more.

Ready to Take Action

Dear Ready to Take Action,

It seems that you want justice for your father and peace of mind for yourself. Those two things can be mutually exclusive. You can have one without the other. If you do not succeed in prosecuting your brother for breaking his fiduciary duty as the executor, it does not mean that you can’t move on.

Not everyone is willing or able to take responsibility for their actions, and that’s OK. Your biggest responsibility is to yourself. Whatever happens with your father’s home and what’s left of his estate, and whatever becomes of your brother, you want to be free. That is your ultimate goal.

There is a statute of limitations on wills, and the clock usually starts ticking after the will has been filed with the probate court. Of course, we don’t know for sure if your father’s will was filed with the probate court and, if there was no will, his estate would still need to go through probate.

The statute also varies by state. There are different deadlines for trusts and wills that apply to different claims, and those statues can change depending on circumstances, according to Albertson & Davidson, a law firm in El Segundo, Calif.

“You must contest a will before it is admitted to probate,” the law firm states. “If a will is admitted to probate, then you have 120 days in which to ask the court to revoke probate. After that time frame, the will cannot be challenged.” It is not clear whether your father’s will was filed.

“Probate is a court process by which the court first determines if a will is valid, then appoints an executor to administer the will in a court-supervised process. When a court issues an order declaring the will is valid, we call this ‘admitting the will to probate,’” the firm adds.

The Moneyist: My father left me money for a house — and my husband put his name on the deed. How do I ensure it goes to our kids?

There is possible good news for your case: “If you want to sue a trustee for breach of trust, then you have three years to do so from the date you knew, or should have known, of the facts giving rise to the breach,” according to Albertson & Davidson.

But if you are never given an accounting or a report, there is no statute for fraud. “If you did not know what the trustee did, and the trustee never gave you an accounting or written report disclosing his actions, then your deadline to sue remains open indefinitely,” it says.

“Obviously, you should not wait forever to take action against your trustee,” the law firm says. “At some point in time, it will become difficult, if not impossible, to hold your trustee liable for harms if you do not take action.” You need to find a reputable law firm in your town or state.

Like I said, the deadline on taking action differs from state to state, but this gives you an idea of what you’re facing. Failing that, you may wish to make peace with the fact that your brother cannot be the brother you want him to be, nor can he be the son your father thought he was.

In the meantime, the Department of Veteran Affairs will provide, at no charge, a headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. You can say goodbye to your father, and thank him for the life he gave you.

But your happiness cannot and should not depend on the outcome of this case or the resolution of the broken relationship with your brother. Your father gave you the tools during your lifetime to seek the kind of life you want for yourself, independent of the misdeeds of others.

This is the most important goal for you to pursue.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com. Want to read more?Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitterand read more of his columns here

Don’t miss:‘We will not have a vaccine by next winter.’ Like the 1918 Spanish flu, CDC says second wave of coronavirus could be worse. So what happens now?

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Coronavirus update

As of Saturday, COVID-19 had infected 26,623,562 people worldwide, which mostly does not account for asymptomatic cases, and killed 874,717. The U.S. still has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases (6,200,518), followed by Brazil (4,091,801), India (4,023,179) and Russia (1,011,987), according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

In the meantime, cases keep rising in the U.S. with California becoming the first state in the country to surpass 700,000 confirmed cases; infections hit 730,662 there as of Saturday with 13,638 COVID-related deaths. New York has recorded 437,971 infections and the highest number of deaths in the U.S. (32,982). COVID has killed 187,755 people in the U.S.

AstraZeneca
AZN,
-1.07%

, in combination with Oxford University; BioNTech SE
BNTX,
-1.19%

and partner Pfizer
PFE,
-0.11%

; GlaxoSmithKline
GSK,
-1.38%

; Johnson & Johnson
JNJ,
-0.64%

; Merck & Co.
MERK,
-0.95%

; Moderna
MRNA,
-3.45%

; and Sanofi
SAN,
+5.09%

are among those currently working toward COVID-19 vaccines.

The Dow Jones Industrial Index
DJIA,
-0.56%
,
the S&P 500
SPX,
-0.81%

and the Nasdaq Composite
COMP,
-1.26%

ended lower Friday. Doubts about traction for further fiscal stimulus from Washington may be one factor discouraging investors who have been betting on Republicans and Democrats striking a deal to offer additional relief to consumers and businesses.





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