So you think you’ve had a bad week?

April 24, 2013

In the past 10 days I have:

  • Cremated a stranger
  • Hired a very expensive attorney
  • Hired a Realtor to sell a house that I don’t own
  • Walked in off the street and assumed financial control of someone else’s  life and finances
  • Coordinated several meetings with a medical team
  • Took a crash course in VA/DFAS/Social Security benefits
  • Discovered I already had Power of Attorney to perform all of the above actions (Surprise!)
  • Am coordinating the 800 mile interstate move of a family member from GA to TX
  • Completed a life insurance form
  • Finished my own taxes and managed to eek out a small refund (yeah, I’m a boss)
  • Managed to do all of the above without having a nervous breakdown

I’ve also learned a lot of life lessons this past week, among them:

  • Always be way over insured (Yes, pay for the life insurance on your loans)
  • You need a medical directive on file (tell your next of kin where it is)
  • You should name  your spouse as your Power of Attorney (both durable and healthcare) and name a contingent if they die
  • You need to have a will, tell people where it is, and name an executor (with a contingent if they die)
  • FILE ALL OF YOUR FINANCIAL/LEGAL PAPERS IN ONE DAMN PLACE!!!!!
  • Be married to an exceptional person (this is very important)
  • Don’t live in Georgia
  • Save more than you think you’ll need in liquid assets
  • Have an understanding boss
  • Do only one thing at a time
  • Keep calm and well, just keep calm

Crazy list, I know, but it’s been a crazy week.  My step-father, who I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet in person yet (long story), had a stroke and passed away suddenly while my mother was in the hospital on an unrelated issue.  I discovered when I got here that I’m the only surviving family member for either of them and that my mother’s health had deteriorated to the point that she can’t live 100% independently any longer.  To compound matters, my deceased step-father had, within the past 30 days, managed to plunge both of them into a financial-hole that is so convoluted that, well let’s just say that it is unbelievably bad (hence, the attorney.)

I left Texas thinking, “Man, I’ve got to go figure out how to bury my mom’s husband,” I got to Chattanooga and discovered that that was going to be the easiest part of my trip.  Now I’m in Georgia trying to sell mom’s house (which is NOT in any shape to be sold at the moment,) trying to find a place in Texas for my mom to move to that she’s going to actually like (from Georgia,) trying to convince my mom that she’s really not able to drive or manage her own finances any longer (trying having THAT conversation with someone already in the grieving process,) trying to unravel the craziest financial imbroglio you can imagine (no, it’s actually worse than you can imagine, I just had to google “synonym for clusterfuck,”) and to top it off, I’m having to considerably dip into our family’s personal savings to manage this fiasco.  Hell, that’s not even all of it, that’s just the stuff I feel somewhat comfortable mentioning in a public forum, it’s actually much, much worse than all of that.  Heck, I’m not even including the stress of trying to manage my own household from 5 states away and figuring out how it’s all going to impact my job!

Oh yeah, then there is ‘the dog.’  Don’t even get me started on ‘the dog.’

The scary thing about all of this is that while I’m overwhelmed, I’m actually handling it pretty darn well.  I owe most of that to my brilliant, supportive husband who dropped everything to drive to Chattanooga and help me sort out the initial mess into something almost manageable.  (Being married to someone intimate with inheritance law was a great bonus!)  I’m also blessed to have a very amazing boss who has been instrumental in navigating the waters at work to help me get the time off necessary to devote to all these things.  I somehow managed to luck into my mother’s very competent medical team and was lucky enough to locate the one of the most experienced, if costly, law firms in the city (you really do get what you pay for, folks, I can’t stress that enough.)  Finally, I’m finding a wealth of information from multiple elder care facilities in Texas who are working with me to find the best place for my mom to relocate.

I still have a lot of work left to do, but I’ve already amassed a huge network of competent people who are helping me break things down into something that I can get my mind around.  I’m not sure when I’ll be back in Texas, but I’m hoping it will be before the summer.  In the meantime, I’m going to take a moment to reflect on the fact that I’m surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian mountains, a plentiful supply of obnoxiously inexpensive craft beer/tasty food, and an opportunity to consider myself a ‘real grown up’ when I’m done with it all.  I’m going to be one tough/well educated ‘adult’ by the time I go home, so watch out Texas.

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