We’re talking new experiences here, things I don’t wish on my worst enemy. But, if you are a normal person with a normal life you either have had to deal with I am now, or you will be doing it one of these days. Trust me, it is neither fun nor easy. The best way to explain it is just plain weird.
I lost my mother on January 2. When you lose your parents, or someone close, you know, reasonably there will be probate, and going through things. That’s the easy part. The reality of probate is almost daunting. The other reality of dealing with the problems left behind, from bills, mortgages, to reverse mortgages does not allow for mourning. Fact is, the vultures begin circling almost immediately. Theoretically, we should know how to handle these things. The reality is much different. You’ve already faced one life-altering blow. What comes next is almost as bad.
It hurts. It is expensive. There are rules. I swear the whole business is locked in some secret, super secret, double super secret club, where you are told the rules, after you violate them. The problem with those rules and violating them is that we are held accountable for breaking rules about which we know nothing. Then – when asking how to circumvent the rules, a person must be contrite, humble, apologetic, and treat the person who knows the rules like they are the ultimate word of authority in the universe. Just remember: You are a little person, lower than pond scum. The person on the other end of the phone is, or thinks they are the ultimate representation of power and authority in the universe.
Take notes, get names, and write everything down – immediately. Make copies of everything. 1)You 2)Attorney 3)Accountant 4)Heirs. Staple, fold, and mutilate.
When it comes to separating family treasures, be kind, helpful, and don’t be greedy. If there is something you want, be willing to trade for it. You aren’t the only one hurting. Many estates will be rushed into settling – immediately. If you are allowed the luxury of taking your time – do it. Most importantly, DO NOT be railroaded into dealing with companies that settle estates for a percentage. They exist to make money – and probably won’t make any for you. They don’t care about you and are not your friend. They are about making money. From what I can tell, they won’t even pay for months. Don’t be pushed.
Don’t let people shame you into getting rid of things you want to keep. Don’t be forced to sign contracts. Don’t trust people. Be skeptical of everyone. There’s always a motive, and it is rarely about you. Don’t be manipulated, put on a guilt trip, or forced to do something you do not want to do.
There is very little money in estates unless you have glorious antiques. People are no longer buying silver unless they plan to melt it. Research your own art and jewelry. You may be able to get more for it than some so-called expert.
Think antique malls and going into the antique business for yourself.
And – maybe, once it’s over, you get to mourn.