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Eight months later...

August 19th, 2016 at 07:01 pm

I got a surprise notice in today's mail: the probate court formally accepted my estate financial report and decreed that I distribute the remainder of the estate.

I was so relieved. Since I began this endeavor last January, I was never fully sure I could handle executor duties on my own, with no legal counsel, and there were probably 3 times the court returned forms to me they said were incorrectly completed. If you peppered court clerks with too many questions, they would tell you to consult a lawyer, which was the last thing I wanted to do.

Although it was what I'm sure would be considered a simple estate (2 beneficiaries and 1 single asset, a checking account...thank god I sold the condo beforehand), it still took 8 months to complete.

We recently had elections for probate judge and I was sorely tempted to write a letter to the editor since in all the endorsements the candidates received and in everything they said, NOTHING was referenced about the lengthy probate process.

Granted, there's not much that can be done about the 5-month wait for anyone who's owed money to step forward, but the additional 3 months seems excessive to me since I know I never delayed doing my part and submitting various forms by more than a day or two. And then, on top of that to have to pay a $900 fee, which as my dad pointed out, is really just a tax for the privilege of having them muck things up. I know there's a reason for all of this but I just wish it was a more efficient system.

I've been really anxious to finish this process as another step in moving forward with my life. Today's notice in the mail indicated I could.

I wasted no time. I went to the bank because I only had one blank check left, and I needed one more so I could write two checks, one to myself, one to my sister.

After that, I deposited the check I wrote to myself at my own bank and dropped my sister's check in the mail. Driving home, I silently thanked my mother once again for this unexpected windfall. My total inheritance, including the mutual fund distribution I already received earlier this year, is $92,381. I am humbled and grateful to receive this gift and I want to use it wisely.

I can't begin to imagine how my sister will feel receiving the identical gift when she treated my mother so badly for so many years and turned her back on her for the last 8 months of her life when she had Alzheimers. What kind of daughter does that? I don't know if she's capable of feeling guilt, remorse or any regrets.

I would never have thought it possible that my family, fragmented due to my parents' divorce so many years ago (and why I suspect my sister was so angry with my mother, decades later, believe it or not), could ever be more split up than it already was. But because my sister declined to get involved....at all...in caring for my mother during her illness, or even visiting her in the last 8 months until i told her she was in hospice, I've been too angry to deal with her. We have barely spoken since my mother's death. She knows I am angry with her but has chosen not to try to talk to me at all, which is still something that shocks and upsets me and makes everything worse. It tells me she would rather not have a relationship with me than have to deal with the discomfort of trying to clear the air and help me to understand what happened.

Since dad is living in an apartment above her barn, on her property, he spent last Christmas with her. On Easter, I got no invitations from him or my sister, so I invited myself to join my friend R. and his sister and nieces and their kids. But I can't expect to do that every year, so the thought of the upcoming holidays...any holiday.... is just dreaded and dreary, because I honestly have no family now except dad.

I don't want to create a big tug of war trying to get dad to spend a holiday with me.

But back to what I'd been talking about, the inheritance...calmer thoughts...Unlike years back when I "blew" a small portion of an inheritance I received from my grandmother on some very nice but overpriced cabinetry furniture (an entertainment center and matching oak bookcase from Renovation Hardware), I will be investing all this money with no current plans to spend it.

The only thing I can think of is that having this extra money might make it easier for me to consider having the masons back here next spring for a third time, this time to redo the deteriorating brick patio in the backyard.

I have to do something about it as weeds spring up between the bricks and grow so rapidly after every time it rains. It's a constant chore to weed there and if I don't, the entire area will be overtaken. It would be wonderful to have them do it, but it would likely be another $10,000 based on what he charged me for the front stair redo and the paver driveway. Gosh, I could put his kids thru college!

Although the back patio is exceptionally private, I don't spend a lot of time back there now that the upper half of my paver driveway functions as a jumbo-sized patio, and I have happily puttered away many hours watering my potted veggies and flowers, and more recently, watching my black swallowtail caterpillars in their aquarium home.

With the new blower I bought this year I can clean off all the leaves that fall in about 5 minutes and keep it perfectly clean. Whereas the back brick patio is always unkempt looking, weedy and probably has ticks creeping about.

I've been saying for years I want to sell this place and buy a condo, but honestly I am always looking at condos coming on the market (I have various email alerts set up with area real estate brokerages) and I rarely find any condos that offer everything I want. Actually, my current home has nearly "everything I want," except the property is a lot of upkeep. I already have someone mowing for me, which costs about $1,000 if he mows weekly, but even with that there are is constant weeding of various perennial beds, cutting back aggressively growing vines and shrubs and periodic take-downs of huge trees required for safety reasons. So I continue to waffle.

Today I also got 2 checks from my 401k so I wrote a memo to Vanguard with detailed instructions for their investment (totalling about $55k) and they'll go out in tomorrow's mail. Once the 2nd half of my inheritance clears at the bank, I'll have to carefully consider where to stow that. Being unemployed, I will likely keep a greater amount liquid in an online money market than I would normally, so I can access it easily if required.

But the best case scenario for me would be to find a job within the next 6 months. I've been gradually attending more job search webinars with the consulting firm my ex-employer engaged for me, and it did motivate me to totally rewrite a much stronger summary statement on my resume. I made other more minor formatting tweaks they recommended as well.

I have more webinars scheduled and am especially looking forward to 2 courses on how to leverage Linked In during a job search.

So, I am feeling rather flush with cash but have to remind myself how long I'll remain unemployed is a big unknown. And this time around, I won't be able to do freelance writing for the real estate company that gave me so much work in the past. I gave that up when I got the job at the bank 3 years ago and I know he found someone else to do the job. It would feel awkward to approach him.

I do have a few money-making ventures lined up. I will be a poll worker on Election Day, but that's not til November, obviously.

I have one small client I still edit emails for, but that's a very, very small check. I have another client who was going to have a legal report for me to edit but she never sent it on so not sure what happened there. She may have gained a deadline extension and is still working on it.

I am keeping an eye out for interesting studies which around here are put on by Yale or U Conn. And now that I have my car and homeowners insurance bill, I'll be looking for another bonus rewards credit card to compensate for some of that expense, ideally by $200 but I would settle for $150 or even $100.

On the caterpillar front, a 3rd caterpillar has begun to form a chrysalis. Interestingly, the 1st to do so is hanging suspended underneath a grayish brown twig I put in there, and the chrysalis itself matches that color perfectly. The 2nd chrysalis hangs suspended under a green parsley stalk and that chrysalis is green. The 3rd chrysalis still sports caterpillar colors of green and black stripes with yellow dots but it will change by tomorrow, probably.

So I started with the terra cotta pot planted with parsley. When that was all eaten up, I added a narrow mouthed container filled with cut organic parsley, then the other. Narrow-mouthed so a caterpillar doesn't accidentally fall into a cup and drown.

The remaining 5 caterpillars alternate between feeding on parsley leaves and resting. Resting and feeding. Feeding and resting. What a life. I tucked them in for the night with a new batch of parsley and they will have all the green leafies they could want. If you're a caterpillar, at least, life is good.

13 Responses to “Eight months later...”

  1. Jenn Says:

    Maybe you could start a holiday tradition that doesn't involve family? A trip, or cruise, or hotel or B&B stay... Something you would enjoy that wouldn't seem lonely but special instead.

  2. VS_ozgirl Says:

    Jenn that is a great idea.. I remember speaking to someone a few years ago who went away with her family for the Christmas break overseas on Christmas day. They decided that they didn't actually care about the various Christmas traditions so they flew out on Christmas day and saved a heap of money.

  3. VS_ozgirl Says:

    Also, PatientSaver what about if you use some time each day on writing a book? You could end up doing really well.

  4. creditcardfree Says:

    I see an ebook about caterpillars in your future. Smile I like Jenn's idea. Or invited other single people you know to a dinner for the holiday that means the most to you.

  5. CB in the City Says:

    It is possible that your sister is too ashamed to talk to you. Or she may be one of those people who cannot take responsibility for her actions, so is always blaming others. I have several of those in my life. Unfortunately, I don't think they ever change.

    I have the same kind of potential tug-of-war, only with my children and my ex. We have been quite civil for years now, but in the past have struggled mightily with sharing time on holidays, etc. I'm sure your father is very much aware of the tension and does his best to be fair to both of you.

    I'm happy for you that your probate is done. What a nice windfall for you. I would definitely get the patio work done to match your driveway. It would not only bring you pleasure but would add value to your house.

  6. ThriftoRama Says:

    Oh my gosh. This post struck a really strong chord with me. I see myself having these same thoughts in the future, when it's time to close my mother's estate. Not so much with the complicated family structure, but the why didn't my sister help? Why didn't she visit? Why doesn't she care?

    It's difficult. We can never know what really lies in another person's heart. How she feels or what her reasons might be. It'll eat you up if you keep trying to figure her out, keep wondering.

    Take solace in your actions. You've certainly done right by everyone. Your sister, your mom. You lovingly and thoughtfully handled her care, her death, her art, her estate.

    All we can do is choose what kind of person we want to be. We can choose how we will act and react to what life gives us.

    The stuff about your sister is awful, and it's hard, but she's made her decision.

    You should sleep easy knowing you did well. You are a good person.

  7. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I'm glad to hear that your probate is done. That was a long process.

    I hope you are able to figure out something that will make you happy for holidays.

    What do you think your sister would do if you were to write her a letter telling her that you are hurt by her inactions and bewildered as to the reasons behind it?

  8. PatientSaver Says:

    To everyone, thank you, and big hug to Thriftorama. You're right; I worry this will just eat me up if I don't find a way to deal with these feelings. I had seen a therapist for a relatively short while still employed but stopped going when the company stopping paying 100% for the 1st 6 visits. I certainly wouldn't spend the money now.

    You're right. I do take solace in everything I've done, and part of what drove me is knowing I would want to feel good about things afterwards. As much as you can feel good about something like this. You can imagine how difficult it was for me to send my sister her check because I felt she did not act like a loving daughter. It killed me to send it, in fact, but I did it becus I knew my mother would have wanted it.

    My sister is a very black and white person in her beliefs and opinions. She rarely if ever changes her mind or admits to being wrong. I am honestly beginning to wonder of there's some sort of mental illness there.

    But deep down she may feel ashamed and is afraid to face my wrath. My anger is overwhelming at times. I knew my mother generally got on her nerves, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine she would just walk away from the situation, from mom, from me. But this is what my sister does when faced with anything she doesn't want to do. She makes an exit. To me she is very selfish and never learned to sacrifice, to compromise or show compassion.

    I have thought about writing her a letter, although the process of writing it and reliving everything would be so painful I would really have to force myself. Given the depth of my feelings toward her, I doubt that after receiving a letter filled with my questions she would ever respond.

    I don't know how it is possible that a sibling you grew up with, who lived in the same home for 17 years, who you saw year in and year out, could apparently be okay with having no relationship with you. We got along, but like my mother i had to be careful not to do anything to annoy her and most of all to never disagree with her becus that made her very irritable.

    Anyway, I got a call from a woman who runs another bereavement support group that's starting up again in September. I had attended a different group last year that only met once monthly, which I didn't think was enough, and so after about 4 visits, I stopped going. I was also thinking I didn't "need" the group anymore.

    The new group is weekly, is a bit closer than the other one and is a 10-week commitment. It's in the afternoons, so as long as I don't get a job, I can keep going. I've heard people say "the first year is the hardest" after someone dies. This new woman from the group said they found it usually takes from 2 to 5 years to move on. Maybe that was for spouses, I'm not sure.

  9. ThriftoRama Says:

    "this is what my sister does when faced with anything she doesn't want to do. She makes an exit. To me she is very selfish and never learned to sacrifice, to compromise or show compassion."

    I think we have the same sister. I worry about what the future holds, when it's time to take care of our aging mother. She already has no capacity to care for others, to see others' needs or perspectives, to sacrifice anything or feel any discomfort.

    Hugs. You have to find a way to let it go. You can't change her. You can't read her heart. You'll never know.

    But, even though it sounds like you aren't talking now, that might not last forever. Maybe you both need time to burn off the intensity of emotion that burying your mother requires. My dad is dead, but I have heard and do believe the death of your mother is a much more profound and intense kind of grief.

    Do you what your need to to work through your grief. Set your sister free to work through hers.

  10. PatientSaver Says:

    Thriftorama, one thing you can do to prepare is to MAKE SURE your mother names you as power of attorney and ideally, as executor. Because then at least you'll have the ability to make the hard decisions, with or without your sister. It's almost as if you have to forge ahead as if you were an only child. That's how I felt.

    It would also be enormously helpful to you if you can sit down with your mother and write down whatever meds she taking, for what, what dosage, which doctor. Then make a list of all her doctors with contact info. Review her medical history with her if you don't already know it. This way, if anything happens, you'll at least be able to fill in the blanks with any healthcare providers who aren't familiar with her.

    My mother was happy to do this with me, and I would very much like to do this with my dad, but he's much more independent and he might balk or dislike me prying into his affairs. I once suggested it might be a good idea if I had a spare key to h is apartment, in case something happened and my sister wasn't home. I still don't have the key and i feel very unprepared should anything happen with him.

    And finally, what I learned from probate is, that if your mom has any assets it's far preferable she keep it with a mutual fund brokerage like Vanguard for example. Provided that she has named beneficiaries when she set up the account, the money will go directly to them with the long delays of probate and no hassle from the mutual fund company. It just makes things so much easier.

    Thanks again for your support.

  11. scottish girl Says:

    I like the idea of a holiday tradition that doesn't involve family. Ah, I can see in the future hubby being in your sister's position since he isn't talking to his mum or brother just now, although I don't know if that will change. Thank you for sharing these details with us.

  12. rob62521 Says:

    Glad the probate wait is over and what a nice little nest egg for you. I'm sure you will invest/use it wisely.

    As for your sister, I wouldn't count on any remorse or guilt. Some folks are just selfish human beings with little to no conscience. You, on the other hand, did the right thing with your mom and you know in your heart that you did. I'm sure others know it too.

  13. ceejay74 Says:

    Congratulations on making it through to this point. I hope your mother's gift helps move the retirement yardstick up a bit so hopefully you have less work to do before you get to a comfortable place. Maybe with what she gave you, you could either take a lower-paying job for these last few working years or if you do find a comparable salary to what you had, get out a year earlier than planned?

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