Monday—Life Is Complicated Day #11: Phone Calls

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate


It's all in the trust

Paper Rules
Today was Phone Day #1.  I'd been dreading it for a week mainly because I did not know exactly where to start.  Some had to be called now and some later, but it was vitally important that I make these calls in the right order.  Like a game of Pickup Sticks, one wrong move could bring the whole thing down in a quagmire of tangled communications.  But, it had to be done, and today was the day to start.

Veteran's Administration
I started with what was in front of me that I clearly understood.  My sister and I are beneficiaries on my dad's VA insurance.  I called the number on the form that he'd given me and got a very helpful guy with a thick Jersey accent.  They would send me the death claim form, I'd fill it out, and return it.  Okay, pretty straight forward.  One down, four more immediately important calls to go.  Next stop, the cards in his wallet.

Social Security  
Another easy one.  Social Security is perhaps Numero Uno on the list of agencies that need to know when somebody dies.  I called them, and they said that they'd contact Medicare.  Really?!  A gov agency that will contact another gov agency...for me?!  What a relief.  Thank you, thank you.

Doctors
I called all of the physicians' cards in his wallet.  Might as well let them know that he DIED, and thanks for nothing, by the way.

Homeowner's Insurance & Auto Insurance
We found these policies in the safe deposit box.  Thank gawd for that because he had two file drawers and a dozen binders full of old financial records at the house.  As it turned out, the auto policies and the homeowner's were with the same agency, so I was able to handle both issues with one phone call.

For the first time, I had to defend myself against a condescending insurance agent who tried to tell me that the cars were outside of the trust, and that they had to go through probate.  He also felt the need to explain probate to me.  I cut him off when he began to tell me that probate was a foregone conclusion.  Shut the Hell up.

This is where the powerpoint presentation and the notes that we took when we met with the trust attorney suddenly came into play.  With the trust documents in front of me, I read from the Assignment of Assets designating all of the personal property and vehicles of all kinds as part of the trust.  So, zip it, Barney, and tell me what you need in order to update his file.

He wanted a copy of the Affidavit of Successor Trustee designating me as the new trustee, as well as the Assignment of Assets document.  He wanted them faxed, not scanned and sent by email, but good old-fashioned, old-timey fax, which meant that I had to find someplace in town that had a fax machine and get down there before they closed.

It was a preview of things to come.   This would become my daily routine.  I had to be clear-headed and have all of the critical information in front of me.  I also needed a baseline understanding of how certain things work.  Medicare and Medicare prescription plans, for example, are separate entities.  One does not talk to the other.  Then, there is supplemental health coverage outside of Medicare, and they are entirely separate, as well.  

I am learning as I go for the next 6 to 9 months.  

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