I know I’m lucky. My sister doesn’t give me any lip about anything I’m doing concerning Mom’s estate. In fact, she actually appreciates it all. It’s the rest of the world that’s giving me fits.
Let’s start with notifying all the interested parties that Mom’s passed away. This is not a jolly task by anyone’s stretch of the imagination. Making calls and navigating phone trees is just about one of my least favorite things in the world, even if what I’m doing bears no relation to a loved one’s death. Doing so to tell the world my mom died puts it in the column of tortuous.
I’ll begin with the kudos. Once I actually got through to a human, the government OPM (Office of Personnel Management) and Blue Cross Blue Shield were actually quite wonderful to deal with. Fidelity Investments has a whole department set aside to handle these calls. Sympathy was extended and I could hear care in the voices of those I spoke with. Same with Farmer’s Insurance.
That wasn’t so with some places I called. For instance, canceling my mom’s store cards. You know JCPenney’s, Dillard’s etc. In this age of identity theft, cancelling these accounts is as important as notifying Social Security (the funeral home handles that for you). Here’s the problem, store credit cards are handled by GE Credit and they’re not very nice. You know who handles the cancellation of an account when someone dies? The collection department! Need I say more?
And you can’t cancel all the accounts with one call. First you have to go through the individual store’s customer service department and then they transfer you to the mean GE people, where yet another rude collection agent shakes you down. Perhaps if my Mom’s accounts were in arrears, this might have been necessary, but Mom and Dad always paid off their accounts, in full, as soon as they got the bill. And to boot, she’s been on the medical merry-go-round for so long that it had been months since she’d used any of the cards. In essence, I was doing them a favor by notifying them, but they thought the shoe was on the other foot.
There was one store that handled things differently and that was Macy’s. I was able to cancel the card with no hassle what so ever and got a confirmation letter in the mail. I’ve never been a big fan of Macy’s. I’ve sort of been mad ever since they took over Foley’s, but I see them in a whole new light. I may just have to start buying things there.
Handling other financial institutions, like banks and that sort of thing has been fairly painless. (Accolades go to Capital One, Comerica and Fidelity.) They all seemed to understand that this was an unpleasant task and did their best to make it easier.
Then came the donations. First, I want to let you know about a great resource. I had a wide variety of medical equipment, from a wheelchair and wheeled walker to other tools to assist the aged and handicapped. I wanted to be sure these things would go to someone who actually needed it, so I hit the internet. I discovered DME Exchange of Dallas. They accepted donations on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so on the appointed day I loaded bath chairs, potty chairs and all the other stuff into the car -banging myself in the head pretty good along the way. (Can you get a concussion from a walker to the face?)
I was beginning to doubt the wisdom of this as I drove across town with a throbbing forehead. I found the place in a nondescript office complex and went in to figure out the drill. I suddenly became very important. The workers in the office were thrilled that I’d brought them some equipment. One lady was so grateful she cried and the other one was in ecstasy. Every item I donated was something they desperately needed. Boy, did that little chore feel good.
The next day I met that charity that does “the most good” at the storage facility. Things didn’t go as well with that. I’ll tell you about that another day.