OK, I really tried to find a way to work in the LEAP thing because this day only happens once a year. Maybe I’ll get it next time.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I think it’s possible to take care of things when you know what to take care of. But, what about the things you don’t know about that have to be taken care of that you don’t know to ask about? It’s a bit of a mad circle that is hard to get out of.
This is the case when someone is closing the estate of a loved one. If there are two consistent statements I hear it’s either “there isn’t any money in the estate so there’s nothing to do” or “everything was taken care of and put in order before they died.” Neither of these statements is true nor applicable to the actual closing of the estate.
Here are a few things to know as you take on the role as trustee or personal representative.
ID theft happens, even after death. The last thing you want to do is re-live the pain of losing your loved one again by having to deal with ID theft. It’s so easy to find social security numbers and information on the web, even if your loved one never owned a computer. Not dealing with even seemingly simple tasks leaves the estate vulnerable to unscrupulous people.
It won’t take long so I’ll just handle it. Ask anyone who’s done it and they’ll tell you that it took so much longer and was so much harder than they ever thought. Not only is it something you’ve never done or know how to do, the frame of mind that you are in makes it all that more difficult.
This will be the last thing I have to do. Generally speaking, the “last thing” usually generates one more “last thing” that has to be done. One phone call to “this place” results in another phone call to “that place” which results in another phone call and so on and so on. It seems to never end, especially when you have no one to help you during this difficult and emotional time.
Closing the estate isn’t something that can or should be taken lightly. It’s a great responsibility with a lot more work than what appears on the surface. Give yourself permission to get help. Yes, it may cost money but the emotional toll, time away from work and family, travel, research and other things cost as well.
So, take a LEAP and really get everything done, properly. Ok, I know it was a stretch, but I did try.
After the Fact – Final Affairs
When people ask me what I do for a living, my standard answer has always been to explain what I do. But I was challenged last night to start looking at my business (and my life) as a WHY, not a how or a what.
Sure, I can tell you what our business is (Professional Estate Closure working directly for the families) how we do our business (we run final credit reports, remove information from the internet, research and find money and a myriad of other tasks) but I never say WHY I do this and why it’s important.
So, WHY do I do this? Because, I don’t want anyone to go through what I did. No surprise phone calls when I’m having a bad day; no months of completing paperwork only to have it sent back time after time; no surprise birthday card from people who didn’t know about the death; no more wasted vacation days spent at the bank, running errands, waiting on hold or sorting through paperwork. Basically, I want to help them because there was no one to help me.
I believe that every family should have an opportunity to grieve their loss and spend time with each other. I don’t want them to feel like they have to do everything. I don’t want them to feel like this will never end. I don’t want them to feel completely overwhelmed and exhausted by everything.
If, at the end of the day, I was able to help one person in some small way, then our business was a success, in every way.
BTW – thank you Brian for the challenge!