Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Advice from a Survivor

I don't want to lose too many readers by taking the focus off horses and putting it onto a rather taboo or depressing subject, but this is important for everyone to know.  If your spouse passes away before you, make sure that you change all the bills over to your name before removing your spouses' name from your bank accounts.  My mother didn't do that, so I've had to jump through hoops in some cases to not just provide copies of my mother's death certificate, but to provide my father's death certificate in order to be able to close accounts.  Then if there is a refund on an overpayment and the check is issued to my father's name, I really have trouble explaining to the bank why I am depositing a check for someone who died ten years ago and whose name is not even on the bank account.

Also, when your retirement fund, life insurance, and/or annuity beneficiary passes away, make sure that you update those funds with a new living beneficiary.  Again, my mother didn't do that, so in some cases I will not be able access death benefits that should have been provided to me, since I paid for her funeral expenses and am still paying her bills.  Some agencies are wise enough to have a procedure they follow in such cases that involves assessing the next of kin, the establishment of a Trust, and who has been paying for the funeral and debts, but many are too stupid to consider that perhaps the designated beneficiary passed away too.  I'm sure this will all get ironed out in time, but it does create more phone calls, more expense and more paperwork for the survivors.

I see a lot of people "invest" their money in things, such as artwork, antiques, and jewelry.  The value of such items may go up over time, but not by much.  The reality is that since most people have to hold down a paying job and have responsibilities to their other family members, they can't afford to take the time to go through all of the personal belongings of a loved one who is deceased, get it appraised, and personally sell it or move it.

Most of us have to hire an estate sales firm to process and sell it all while we go on with our lives, which means that the estate sales firm earns somewhere around 50% of the proceeds from their estate sale.  Ultimately, the investment made in those nice things never really gets fully inherited by the intended recipients.

I think it's inevitable that each of us will have to deal with the business side of someone's death at some point during our lives.  If not, consider yourself lucky.  At any rate, think about whomever will have to deal with the business end of your own death, and try to make it as easy on them as possible by preparing ahead, keeping in mind that an average lifespan is not guaranteed. 

In other news, I got a picture of that escaped or abandoned domestic bunny that has been visiting us early in the mornings shortly after sunrise.

Waskily Wabbit.


Mrs Mom said...

Nuzmuz, The information you are sharing is invaluable. I for one am grateful that you can share it so freely- we know all too well the cost of learning what we ALL need to know.

Thank you again.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Dealing with estate stuff is never fun. Sorry to hear your mom didn't have everything updated. That makes it doubly rough.

How is your brother doing?

Dreaming said...

The bunny is too cute!

You are raising such interesting points - things that many of us have never thought about.
My dad did tell me where all of his important papers are kept and gave me contact information for lawyers. More recently he's had me go to the lawyer, and sometimes, the doctor with him. The neatest thing (if planning for death can be 'neat')he did was to give me a postcard he received from the family of a friend who had died. He 'edited' the card showing what he would want put on it and instructed me to send it out to everyone in his address book when he passes on.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, NM. It's something very important to consider.

That bunny looks like a hybrid. I used to run a Lagomorph Rescue and have had a few of those hybrids turned over to me when someone rescues them. The hybrid is the result of a domesticated bunny that was abandoned and then breeds with wild rabbits.


fernvalley01 said...

I don't think you will lose readers talking about these things, blogs are about sharing our experiences , yes about horses but also about life. And if your insights help just one other person...

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

BEC - Thanks for asking. My brother is recovering at his home now and having his own troubles with the government threatening to take his SSI and social security away. They decided to do a reassessment of his qualifications while he was in the hospital, and because he didn't get his mail and fill in all their forms within their timeline, (it's kind of hard to write with a broken shoulder) they were going to cut him off, which meant that I not only would have had to settle my mother's estate, but would have had to support my brother financially too during my unemployment after getting laid off. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, but it seems all I'm being allowed to do right now is pay bills and wait.

Linda said...

That is wonderful information. I wouldn't have thought of any of it. It seems though that most people do not like planning for their deaths. My mom always says it will be up to us to go through all the junk when they pass--I don't know if that will be possible--for the reasons you say--we have families to take care of and jobs.

Breathe said...

I appreciate the information too. My mother is 75, grandmother 95. The day will come where I'll be thanking you for helping me handle things.

We're already talking about this in our family because of what you've been through.

It's no fun, but it's important to have someones wishes and affairs ready.

Rising Rainbow said...

Like the others I appreciate these posts. So many things to think about no one remembers all of them on their own. I have friends here involved in settling an estate as well. It has been quite messy because of things not done correctly ahead of time. Between the two of you, I'm learning a ton.

Glad to hear that things are improving with your brother too. I was wondering how he was doing.

achieve1dream said...

I agree with the others. This information is very helpful.

That rabbit is so cute!