Another Day, Another Adventure in Probate – The Checking Account


On Wednesday, I may or may not have attempted to commit fraud and cheat my sister out of $689 remaining in our mother’s checking account.  If you listen to my side of the story, I’m innocent I tell you, innocent!  If you listen to the local bank manager’s version, I’m a corrupt criminal who needs to spent time in prison. In reality, no one tells you what you need to do.  Oh, they think they do, and they have various and sundry names for various and sundry things, but like anyone else dealing with probate, I’m also dealing with the loss of someone near and dear.  Everyone tells you they’re ‘sorry’ but in reality, the average person you encounter on this insane journey doesn’t give a damn.  They’re just trying to do a job and put up with overly emotional idiots who don’t know what they’re doing.

Had I been bright enough, I would have cleared most of the money out of my mother’s checking account, the way someone I know, who was a banking CEO did when his mother-in-law was dying.  I mentioned that to my sister, today.  Unfortunately, it’s now too late.  Fortunately, it is a lesson I will probably never use, again. At the time, while neither my sister or I were signatories on her checking account (I was with my father) we both had financial POA.  We were too busy digesting the fact that our mother was dying, to think of much else.

I readily admit I did not have my quackers in a row.  Fine.  The guy at the bank could have been kind. He was a total jerk.  My sister and I are joint executors of our parents’ estates.  They are probating our father’s estate in South Carolina.  That is running smoothly.  New Mexico is the problem, and it isn’t really a problem.  My sister lives in Memphis. She has a life and a viable business that includes a small chain of three coffee shops and cafes.  I was made to feel like I was trying to defraud her.  The branch manager started using words like ‘defraud’, ‘liability’ ,’legal department’, and forth and so on.

On Tuesday, I called the bank to make sure I had the right paperwork, including a death certificate, letters of appointment from the court, this sort of thing.  The dimwith idiot who answered the phone at the bank told me I would need the death certificate and everything else from probate.  I asked her to specify. “Oh, just everything.”  Sarcastically, I took everything.

It wasn’t enough.

The reality of the situation is that I have no problem admitting I screwed up, again.  But, the guy could have been decent.  Dealing with this stuff is not easy.  Unless you are a heartless wretch, I hurts. It’s just another door that closes, never to open again.  Having a little compassion is not only kind, it’s good for business.  Do you really think I’m going to open a new account with that specific bank?

All of this could have been avoided if my mother had put either my sister or I on her account.  Our probate mess could have been resolved with some very real preparations, but no one thinks about it.  They did their wills and were manipulated by what has been proved to be an invalid trust – to the tune of at least $7000.  That would have paid most of the ‘end of life’ bills.  Valid planning would involve talking, and searching for someone who knows how to handle these things.

After talking to the paralegal who is working on our probate, when my sister comes to visit, we’ll close the account then.  Like Sandy told me,  it will be a heck of a lot easier.