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What Does Hell Look Like?

If there is a hell, and if it is customized to fit the individual, I am experiencing a little bit of my potential hell today.

Mine will be filled with paperwork. Piles and piles of never ending paperwork.

I am the Successor Trustee of my dad’s trust. I know he entrusted this task to me because he knew I would do a reasonable good job of it, and look after the best interests of my sister and my niece to the best of my ability. But right now it feels like he did it because he secretly hated me.

I have to give him credit. At least he made a trust. Many people don’t do that, and estates are left to the whims of the probate courts. Trusts make things easier. Theoretically. They are still a lot of work, and if your paperwork is in shambles, the task is SOOOOOOOO much more difficult.

I have to admit, I have put a lot of this off. He died over a year ago, but because I couldn’t disperse the trust assets until the last of the real estate was sold, I gave the boxes of paperwork a cursory glance to determine what needed to be handled immediately, and saved the rest until it needed to be done. It is now time to pay the piper. And I hate it. I hate determining what needs to be kept and what doesn’t. I hate scrounging for the info I need to pay taxes. I hate going through page after page after page of unnecessary paperwork to find the few sheets that are important.

For someone who is having an on-going love affair with fancy paper, I have a horrible aversion to regular old paper, let me tell you.

Can I give you some advice?

If you love the person you have entrusted with seeing your final wishes are carried out, please keep up to date on your paper work. Toss the stuff that is not important (trust me on this, no one cares what credit card purchases you made 20 years ago!) and keep the stuff that IS important organized. Insurance policies should not be mixed in with old credit card bills. There should be a master list of insurance policies and a list of debts and how they are paid (whether you get billed monthly, or they are on auto-pay through your bank account or put on a credit card.)

And most importantly, take care of your personal issues before you die. Don’t use your insurance policies or trust to settle scores. If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to do it in person, or don’t want to handle it while you’re alive, at least leave a letter of explanation. Don’t make those you left behind wonder why one was favored over the other. Try with all your might to deal with your assets in a way that makes it possible for your survivors to love and care for each other, so they can lean on each other in your absence. Don’t set up situations that leave them fighting and wanting nothing to do with each other.

AND DON’T PUT IT OFF. None of knows how long we have on this earth. Don’t assume you have years to worry about it. Get it organized now, and keep it up to date.

This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with. I don’t know why my dad did the things the way he did them. And I don’t know how to comfort the one who was hurt the most. All I know is, I hate this little bit of hell he left me with.

About tatterednworn

I am a woman who has committed to living a creative life.

4 responses »

  1. So sorry you’re having to deal with this Janet. Allergy to paperwork is yet another thing we have in common. You make a very good point about keeping everything in order for the sake of those we leave behind! {{hugs}} Mary

    • Thanks, Mary. Sometimes you have to live through things to realize there was a better way to do it. I hope I actually LEARN this lesson so I won’t be burdening my kids by repeating his mistakes. Our trust is set up to foster good sibling relationships, and Mr. Tattered’s side of things is organized. Now I just need to get mine in order. XO!

  2. Excellent advice. I’m sorry you’re having to sort through this mess! We are actually in the process of getting all our important accounts, insurances, passports, and documents (including our trust) into an online portal with our new financial advisor. It should be simple should anything happen to us for my sister to access it all at once. I love your idea about a master list of debts and payment plans.

    • Thank you, Naomi. Even people who are fore-sighted enough to have wills and/or trusts sometimes don’t realize how difficult it will be for the person entrusted to care for their affairs to make sense of the paperwork. I hope hearing about my difficulties will spur others to leave less of a mess for their loved ones.


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