Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mom and Dad Still Dead but Remarried

The good news is that Mom and Dad are married again. The bad news is that the correction was made, not with the help of the people at the Smallville County Courthouse when we told them in person their record was wrong and who responded by looking at us as if they were cast members of the original Night of the Living Dead. No, the correction was made by one of the few remaining live people in Smallville (and he may be living in India): the IT department of Smallville County responded to the correction my sister made On Line.

Whew. Now if we could just make our rental slums, I mean homes, in Smallville disappear as easily as that technical error on our parents' marriage license that had my father marrying my fourteen-year-old Aunt Ruth (who was a witness) instead of Aunt Ruth's sister, my mother (who was the bride) my sister and I could go to our graves happy women.

Going to our graves sooner rather than later is beginning to look better and better. At least to me.

But I have to clarify all my beneficiaries before I go go go.

Speaking of beneficiaries:

My father had about $80,000 of deferred compensation set aside by the City of Palo Alto when he retired, and in those days the money was invested with Golden West. By the time he died, thirty-five years later at the age of ninety, there was $1848.66 in his deferred comp fund (known as a "457 plan") and it was/is with Nationwide Retirement Solutions. My sister and I have applied for it repeatedly, and Nationwide has given us a long list of excuses as to why they cannot send to his heirs this money he earned.

I had filled out their beneficiary form five times--and had it rejected five times--before I Googled "Nationwide 457 Scam" (just a hunch, mind you, but it was a good one!) and read various articles about how these Nationwide 457 funds have been used all over the U.S. (Alabama was mentioned several times) for all kinds of golf tournaments, wine tastings and kickbacks.

The list of things that would have mortified my father--the misuse of his 457 funds, the con man/manager who turned his two rental houses into slums, and the sad news that the daughter he was convinced would immediately buy a Porsche when he died being forced to use her inheritance to instead re roof a slummy Smallville garage--gets longer every day. But the word mortify actually describes what happens to your body after you are dead, so I guess Dad is okay after all. Beyond all this. Zoomed way past the mortification stage.

It is the living who must clean up the mess.

List of things to do:
1. Don't Defer any Comp. If someone is to misuse your money it might as well be you.
2. Don't buy rental homes one thousand miles away.
3. Don't turn rental homes one thousand miles away over to Bernie Madoff's cousin.
4. Don't waste money on will. Nobody pays attention to a will, especially after you die.
5. Leave house clean-up and paperwork to heirs.
6. Check marriage license carefully if ever marry again. (Possibly marry in India where all IT experts reside?)
7. Don't marry again.
8. Change name and take 'round the world cruise.
9. Leave remaining estate paperwork to Sis.
10. Figure out how to "take it with you."
11. Buy Porsche. Dad expected it!

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Jon said...

I was lucky, my two eldest sisters were in charge of my folks estate. That is a job that requires a true love of the departed, or it is indeed a horrible task. The only good news from the marriage debacle is you now have another "mother".

Perhaps you could use your writing skills to craft a helpful book for handling a death aftermath. There are many facets which are difficult to navigate without a map. For example, military benefits, burial, life insurance, title transfers, importance of death certificates, distribution of assets, funeral planning, donation, contribution of historical items to appropriate groups/museums. For military families there some nice things you can request/buy, like military records, a flag, medals they earned, a letter from the president, honor guard, 21 gun salute, and sometimes a flyover by jets during the burial.

I have found a book that makes these processes easy to find. If anyone knows of one, please reply.

Robin Chapman said...

Jon: I don't know of such a book either. My sister and I have shared the duties and I have done a larger percentage of them because she has the distraction of children and grandchildren. We have found most of it reasonably easy to navigate. There are two ways to do it: if you have money, a lawyer will do everything for about $25,000. If you want to do it yourself as we did, you have to make a lot of calls and ask a lot of questions and face some frustrating days. The only really nasty company we've dealt with is Nationwide, and now that I've read about the company, I'm not surprised!

Maybe I should write a book about this. But it would be the kind where you laugh through your tears ...

I'm really doing this for my father. Because he would want us to collect every last dime that was due him. He was ethical and expected everyone else to be. Glad he didn't live long enough to see some of what happened.

Steve said...

I agree, books about these tangled webs are necessary. It would be a wonderful idea for a PBS special.
In the meantime I'd like to suggest "The Complete Executor's Guide Book"- "A step by step guide for executors and personal representatives"
By Benjamin H. Berkley.

Robin Chapman said...

Thanks Steve. You've had a lot of this, so I know you have experience in this field (which I am sure you wish you had not had). Still we all will go through it at some point unless we die before everybody else we know and love! So there we are. Thanks for the advice on the book.