Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Ones Left Behind

The ones left behind

We took Bill out for his birthday last night. While it was a nice meal out, it left me sad.


The kids adore Grandpa Bill, and enjoy going over there. He is always quite happy to see Chef, his little buddy. Those joyous greetings make me feel guilty that we don’t bring them to see him more frequently.

Right after Mom passed away, he talked of moving back to New York. He really has no ties down here and if had his way, they never would have moved to Florida full time. I know why she did it-to escape my squabbling siblings who lived to bleed her bank account dry. She sold the house, in a way to prevent Scorpio (need a better name), the champion freeloader from thinking she could live in the house rent free while Mom and Bill were in Florida.

Mom left some mysteries in the wake of her death. She sold the house and by Bill’s accounts, should have had a decent amount of money in the bank. If she did, he never uncovered it. I think that Scorpio (who had authorized user status on most of Mom’s credit cards) charged those cards up to the limit several times. I know that Mom sent checks to Scorpio’s landlord on several occasions to keep her from being evicted from her apartment.

After she died, Bill and I sent letters to all of her creditors and banks. Most of them just closed the accounts, some sent condolence letters. Citibank, however, was the least helpful of the bunch. She had a line of credit with them, like a checking account. It was multi leveled, and she had $1100.00 in it upon her passing. The line of credit had a balance of $2500 or so. My Mom was a savvy woman financially. She’d put life insurance on the accounts: in the event that she’d passed, the accounts would be absolved.

However, Citibank has chosen to ignore the letters and phone calls from Bill. They still
send him a statement each month. They continue to deduct 9.50 a month because the account is below the minimum they require for ‘free’ checking. Meanwhile, that $1100 is now $450 or so. Each time he calls to say she is deceased, please close it and send him the remaining balance, they play dumb.

To me, it’s a cautionary tale. Mom was worried how Bill would react to her spending her own money. They kept separate accounts, paid bills separately. The house was the first thing that was purchased with both their names on it. Mom expected to live the long life her mother and grandmother had. (Great Grandma live until she was in her 90’s, my Nana lived into her 80’s). She thought she had plenty of time to get her affairs in order.

She and I had talked about wills versus living trusts, and we both agreed that the living trust is the smart way to go. One’s assets are not tied up in probate and if she had to go into a nursing home, a living trust would prevent her home being signed over to them. Leaving her assets behind for her family.

Alas, she never got around to it. Instead, Bill has fared better and worse than I thought he would. He no longer has a loving wife nagging him to take care of his health. He does it on his own now. He has a palpable sadness. I think he thought he’d go first, too. He’s managing, but he lives somewhere he didn’t want to live without the person he wanted to be with.

He’s a smart man. I think one of these days, he and I need to go over the important stuff, so that there aren’t any surprises for my stepsister when he does pass.

It’s tough-no one wants to admit to their own mortality, but we have to. Ed and I have never made wills (or living trusts, which make so much more sense for us). We have never approached anyone about guardianship of the boys, mainly because I don’t want to burden anyone with the care of Gameboy. The way I see it, it’s not a simple matter of asking someone to care for him until he’s an adult-quite possibly, he’ll be in other people’s care his entire life.

Who knew that one dinner would bring on so much heavy thought?

3 People talked back:

forgetfulone said...

I know that palpable sadness. I have it. My mom and sister have it. My dad was the one to go unexpectedly at age 69(his dad had lived to 98).

projectmommy said...

Citibank is like that. I had the same problem for a while. Well, not the same problem...but I had trouble closing an acount once it was paid. I'm sorry dinner had such heavy thoughts. I wish that there was something else I could do or say!

Mike Golch said...

My condolences on your Mom's passing.been there.with one exception,Dad went first in 1984@58 years old,Mom passed in 2003@73 years old.