05 February 2014

When Parents Die

I'm ready to pull my hair out.
It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. We planned. We solicited advice from "Experts"...
Set up the machinery so things would go smoothly.
Still... this is a fiasco.

When my Dad retired he cashed out his retirement funds, all in Company Stock, and scared Mother to death. Indianapolis Power and Light Co. had always been a solid investment. But new regulations were just over the horizon and things were changing dramatically at the company.
Dad had a funny feeling. My parents sold the stock and put the proceeds into a "Single Premium" life insurance policy. That decision turned out to be one of the best my Dad ever made...
Within two years the value of IPALCO (Ameren) stock dropped 90%.
In retirement Mom and Dad lived happily for nearly 30 years, able to travel and do most of what they wanted without being restricted by money.

Dad died in 2003. Within a year, Mom had a minor stroke that impacted her vision. No longer able to stay in the lakefront home she shared with Dad, we knew big changes were in store for her.

For three days my Sister and her clan worked frenetically to sort out the "stuff" Mom HAD to have, then organized and had a Yard Sale to dispose of the rest.
Working, I couldn't be there, and I was glad to have the excuse. But I wasn't spared the stress of this change...
We put the house up for sale thinking it would move quickly. Ha!
The bubble in real estate had burst. Folks looking at the house offered "Fire Sale" prices. One prospective buyer hired a house inspector to look the place over. His list of things that had to be repaired was disheartening. Sara Jean and I drove 10 hours round-trip several times over the next months to spend my time off work to paint, do carpentry, clean, and tinker to make the house sell-able.

"Luxurious Senior Living" read the sign...
Sis got Mom situated there and started a new chapter in Mom's life.

An empty house is a nuisance. Insurance companies don't want to insure them. I had a Dickens of a time finding a company that would cover it for catastrophes... for a shocking premium.
The house sat empty for the better part of a year before it sold.

But let's get back to the money...
When Dad died we took the advice of one of our "Experts" and hired an attorney to set up a "Living Trust" for Mom. We then took the proceeds from the life insurance policy Dad bought with his retirement funds and bought an annuity, naming Mom's Trust as the beneficiary. Of course, the Trust laid out instructions as to how Mom's estate was to be handled in case of death or incapacitation.
Smart. Simple. Painless. Right?

Mom died late in June of this year. I've been struggling with the annuity company since.
I'm about to pull out my hair.
It's almost as if they think the money is theirs, not ours. After much struggling, cajoling, and finally threatening to hire an attorney and sue for damages, they issued a check to the Trust last week.
Then I had a hassle just finding an institution that would take those funds so I could pay Mom's bills.

We're finally on our way. When the checks for the new account arrive I can finally pay Mom's final bills, a full eight months after her death. What remains will be divided up as per instructions laid out by the trust.
But I have to wait until the I.R.S. gives me a green light...
They have to have their pound of flesh before we can finalize Mom's wishes.

I have a suggestion for you all, dear readers:
Give ALL your stuff to your loved ones while you're alive.
Save those you love the chaos.



Rita said...

I never recommend buying annuities. Slick salesmen put far too many people's tax deferred investments in them, which is a total waste. The only redeeming quality for an annuity is the tax deferment, which IRA's, etc already have.

I worked for an investment firm for five years as a licensed financial operations principal and I STILL don't understand annuities.

Never buy anything you cannot understand. And I've yet to have anyone explain the benefits of an annuity to my satisfaction.

Not surprised you got a hassle from them. At least they finally paid off.

The Old Man said...

And if you have to pick an executor (or executrix) make bloody sure it's someone that you trust implicitly but don't like very much. They will be cussing you out before the job is done.....

Well Seasoned Fool said...

My mother never straightened out her affairs after my parents divorced. Then her dementia made it necessary for her to enter a care facility. The only step that helped was her granting me a durable power of attorney while she was still "competent". It is going on eight years now. Who knows how long she will live. I feel your pain.

Old NFO said...

Yeah, that is about the ONLY way to save your loved ones that pain... Your story is much like a friend's. They went through that for almost a YEAR before they were even able to get the will probated...

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

That's about it.

The VORACIOUS governments will want to get every bit of their mitts on ANY cash your parents may have.

Cui bono?


Not you.