Tag Archives: estate settling

God is Faithful

Well, one way to increase the odds of posting this next installment in my catching up on what all’s been happening to me as my mother’s “Personal Representative” (they don’t call it Executor any more) , is to start it right after publishing the previous post.

Yes, I did say that I got in a car accident the very morning of the big yard sale. My son and his wife had returned to Tucson to help out with the sale on Saturday and also to celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday. We’d spent Friday getting stuff boxed up and ready to put out on Saturday. Saturday morning I took my Jeep and went around placing yard sale signs in the medians. I was on my last sign,  pulled out of the empty lot I’d been parked in and headed down the road, focused on where I was going to place my last sign and where I’d have to park to do that. It was about 6:50am, and traffic was very light. I entered the intersection about thirty feet up the road from where I’d left the parking lot, and suddenly this black Ford pickup truck was barreling toward me from the left.

“What is THAT doing there?”  I thought in shock and disbelief. I threw on the brakes but soon realized the truck was going too fast and  I wasn’t going to be able to stop in time and so I hit it.

It pulled my car around in a half circle, and left me there in the intersection as it  ran over a small sign with a safety reflector on it in the median, continued on up the road and finally pulled over to the side. I sat in the Jeep, unhurt, but stunned. How could that have happened? “Lord,” I prayed, “what are You doing? How could You allow this today of all days?”

Well, it did have positive repercussions in areas I’d never have thought of…

But first I have to finish my story and get me out of the street. As I said, I was unhurt — bumped my head against the side window at the moment of impact but that’s all. The place where I’d run my head into a cabinet door the day before hurt worse. Within seconds an ambulance pulled up behind me and a paramedic was at my door, asking if I was okay. Turns out they were only two cars back when the accident occurred, though their view had been hampered by other cars so they’d not really seen what happened. He did ask if I remembered what color the light was… I had no memory of the light at all. Just the parking lot on the other side of the street and that big black truck coming fast where it wasn’t supposed to be…

He and his partner held back the traffic while I drove the Jeep into the nearest parking lot and right about then a police cruiser pulled up. Turns out the City of Tucson police department no longer issues citations for collisions where no one is hurt, nor do they do accident reports. They just hand out insurance information forms to each party to fill out, act as a go-between for the exchange of the filled-out forms. The participants’ insurances will have to duke it out as to who is responsible and if they can’t decide, then we split it. Terrific.

At least I got to use my cell phone. The crazy thing is that my husband’s Jeep was already out of commission that weekend with an overheating problem due to an undetermined leak. So he had to come over by bicycle. Before he arrived, the policeman, learning that my car was still drivable, escorted me the block or so back to my mother’s house where everyone came out to view the damage and commiserate. My poor Jeep. Its whole front had been shifted sideways. It did not look at all good.

We ended up getting two rental cars and as it turned out, the insurance decided to fix my Jeep… it will take 25 days, and they will cover the rental. So I’ve been driving a little silver Dodge Caliber about. It’s kind of fun.

All that went on during the yard sale, which, despite fears and even prognostications of disaster, turned out to be a resounding success. We were quite pleased with the money we made, and the stuff we got rid of, but we still had a LOT of stuff left. The jigsaw puzzles for example. My mother had almost 200 of them squirreled away in various closets, and we sold only about 3 that day. Fortunately Bookman’s Used Books took quite a few of them off our hands, and even paid us for them. But there are still probably a good 75 of them left…

Three days after the yard sale we met with the realtor, who’d been recommended to me by the lawyer. The lawyer I found on the internet while looking up ‘probate’. He’d written several articles on the subject which were quite helpful and his office was not only in Tucson, but not far from my home. It seemed an unconventional way to choose a lawyer, but would the yellow pages be better? Did I really need to interview various lawyers and do a bunch of research? The truth was, I didn’t exactly have the brain room or the time to do a lot either. I just prayed for guidance and gave it over to God. Anyway I am quite happy with the lawyer, and when we got around to discussing when we could put the house on the market, I asked if he could recommend a realtor. He did and when I contacted her, it turned out her mother in law lived in the same neighborhood as my mother had, so she was very familiar with it. I counted that a confirmation that God was indeed orchestrating all this things.

Throughout all this I’m learning more than ever and in a more hands “on” way than ever  that it’s God who does the things in my life, not me. I just have to let Him. So maybe I should have said I’m learning in a hands off way.

In any case, He’s been coming through every time.  And continues to do so.

The realtor was thrilled with my mother’s house and we had it on the market the following Saturday and after a week we’ve seen a lot of interest and as of last Friday already had two offers.

But back to the car wreck. Who’d think that could turn out to be a blessing? But it did.  Gas prices being what they are, the Dodge Caliber is the better car to have when one must drive about town all the time, dropping things off here and there… It’s an even better car to drive to Phoenix and back in… I made it the whole way up on a quarter tank of gas!

But that’s tomorrow’s tale.

Now the Legal Stuff

Well, hello, everyone. Sorry I’ve been away for SOOO long. The time seems to have flown by. It’s already a little over a month since my mother went to be with the Lord and it seems like yesterday.

I don’t think one really understands what all this caregiving at the end of life stuff is about until one goes through it. I certainly didn’t. There is so MUCH that floods into your mind, that you have to see to and tend to. And the weird thing is that it doesn’t end upon the death of the one you are caring for. At least not if you are the Executor, as I am. Not just the Executor, but a clueless executor. 
My mother made a very simple will back in January when we did all the stuff with durable power of attorney and health care POA. I also had her put me on her bank account as a joint holder and that was a wonderful bit of advice I received from the clerk that has saved us tons of trouble. In any case, she doesn’t have very much (but she does have a house, which is the complicating factor) and she left it all to me and my sister to be divided equally. We naively thought that we’d just transfer the title for house and car to me, sell them and split what is left. Ha. I went down to DMV about three weeks ago, expecting to transfer the title to the car (this after having called ahead to ask what I was supposed to do) only to learn that  I had to wait until a month after the person had died. That was so everything could go through probate. “What’s probate?” I asked. The clerk didn’t know, only that I had to wait a month and if my mother owns a house, that means she has more assets than $50,000 and so must go to probate. I drove home wondering how in the world I was supposed to get us through probate when I had no idea what it was. Who would I even call? Wouldn’t someone call me?
Apparently not. I went on-line, learned that it’s the legal process of establishing the validity of a will, and in small estates doesn’t usually require court appearances, you just have to file the papers. Since I also had to look up “equity” I decided I would probably be better off having a lawyer do all this filing, since it’s supposedly somewhat non-intuitive. You can get the forms (where??) but then you have to know which ones to fill out and how to fill them out and what the weird terms are … so… About two weeks after my mother’s death I hired a probate lawyer and am very glad I did. I have NO idea how I would have figured out how to fill out the inch-high stack of papers he had for me to sign before filing. Plus he’s there to email if ever I have questions. He got me a tax ID number to open an estate account into which I could transfer my mother’s funds and deposit refund checks addressed only to her…  I have learned an awful lot about all that stuff in the last month. It’s kind of mind-boggling.

In addition to all that, we had to stop the magazines, the newspaper, the credit cards,  notify her friends about her passing, think about a memorial service… We didn’t have a funeral, in part because she was cremated and in part because she was a private person, not given to ceremony. Will we write an obituary? She told my sister that if we did, we were NOT to put a photo of her along with it. 

I spent a week trying to determine the worth of her various works of art — indian arts and paintings.  Also working through the insurance bills — one for the last hospitalization came less than a week after she died, a letter that informed me they’d talked to the insurance company which had confirmed we owed such and such amount. The only thing was, I knew she was fast approaching her out of pocket maximum and wasn’t so sure she’d have to pay the whole thing. I decided to wait until I got an Explanation of Benefits… I’m still waiting.

Then there was the matter of going through her things. Our initial foray into that was just to throw away the obvious junk, and anyone who wanted something could take what they want. Adam and Kim stayed an extra day and a half that first week. Kim went home with my mother’s set of blue enamel cookware… very nice stuff, but both Deb and I have what we want and didn’t need it. We also raided her rubber stamp supplies and that was fun. Actually we had a lot of fun, being together, discovering photos, reminiscing. Adam went through her extensive CD collection and tried to organize them somewhat. We found one she’d kept with a sticky note on it that said “Not Good” and we all laughed at that. The fact that she didn’t like it, yet kept it… 🙂
The downside, though, is that when I bring stuff home, it’s there. My house has no holding space for new things. If something new comes in, something old has to go out, but there’s been no time to figure out what the old thing is going to be. Or, if I do know, I’m still trying to arrange how to get the stuff moved out. First it was a lot of art supplies that I’d gathered in preparation for donating to  the watercolor guild. That took about a week to actually make the connection with a guild member to move the stuff out.  

Then came the yard sale — I got in a car accident the very morning of the sale, while I was out placing signs. But that’s a story I’ll save for another day… This post has gotten too long already. Hopefully I’ll be back to continue it tomorrow.