Thursday, May 5, 2016
The Things that Can Go Wrong After You Die
This room used to be my mother's room, so I'm using it to "sort out her affairs." Affairs take quite a bit of sorting out after you're dead and you're not going to be the one doing it.
Things can go wrong in the sorting out of affairs. Checks can still arrive in the mailbox for the dead. If you have not already closed the dead person's account, you might be able to deposit them by endorsing the check as power of attorney (even though power of attorney expires at the moment of death) and just depositing the thing. If you're lucky.
You might assume that you proved everything that needed proving for your beloved dead person when they were still alive and got on Medicaid. You're wrong. You have to prove they have no money again when they're dead. This is harder when the person is dead if you've already closed their checking accounts and saved a million trees by not printing out statements. There is no online access for an account that's closed. That account is dead. Just like the dead person. And the bank might snub you when you ask for a bank statement. That account is closed, they might say. Your power of attorney is expired, they might add. We need a will with the seal of the court showing you as executor might be the last thing they say before you hang up the phone.
You might have some second thoughts about things you did when your person was still alive. Like that free online do-it-yourself will. It seemed great. Your beloved dead person loved free things. Free online wills do not have court seals.
You might assume that if you report the dead person as dead in order to collect her life insurance (an employee benefit) that the other arms of that benefit system will get the word. Push one for pensions, push two for life insurance does not mean these person's desks are next to each other. Things can look different inside your head than in the real world when you're taking care of business for someone who's dead. Because things are always different inside your head.
If your now dead loved one was in a nursing home, you might assume that "funds held in trust" for that person's miscellaneous expenses like hair cuts and pedicures with be returned to you if there is an unspent balance. Even if the state regulations stipulate that's what's to be done with these funds, good luck getting it. Don't trust the trust.
You might not realize that you need this paper and that paper regarding this or that for the dead person. You might think, well, that's done. She's dead. And you're dead wrong. Save everything. Print things. Kill all the trees. Stack up the papers. Spread them out. Photocopy them. File them. Look for them. Lose them. Find them.
They are what you have left.