Paperwork filed…Lessons learned…Faces punched.


You know what word I have started hating? Closure. I think about closure every day. I naively thought that after Dad died (after weeks of hospice) I’d be able to have closure on the whole tragedy and move on..cope…deal. Yeah. That’s what you would think, right? Wrong. As an indicator as to how much more my brother and I would need to deal with as the administrators of Dad’s “estate” (that’s a legal term that makes it sound way fancier than it really is) – I was filing his 2008 taxes less than two weeks after he died. I mean, filing taxes suck, right? For everyone. Now – imagine having to file them for someone who died. Who you loved. And then, realize that they OWED TAXES. Like filing a deceased loved one’s taxes isn’t torture enough, you then find out that person owed the government.

(Which, really wasn’t much of a surpise. My Dad tried to owe taxes every year because he considered it an interest-free loan from the government.)

Okay…so that sucks, right? Having to file a loved one’s taxes because they died only to realize they owe. Well – what about this? The IRS actually made it difficult for us to do that. I spent several hours on the phone with the IRS saying things like, “I want to pay taxes for my Dad but I can’t because I don’t know his last years AGI and I need that as a pin.” So, two weeks after I lost my Dad I had to convince the IRS he was really dead by faxing over a death certificate. Just so that I could PAY THE GOVERNMENT MONEY. I feel like I deserve some sort of badge of honor for making it throught that whole ordeal without (a) calling someone a filthy whore douche or (b) crying uncontrollably.

Yeah. So much for coping.

Filing Dad’s taxes was just the beginning of stuff we’ve had to do. We had to put everything into probate, open up estate accounts and get EIN numbers assigned. 3 months ago those words would have meant about as much to me as a sentence written in Arabic. I wouldn’t have known what any of it meant. Now? I’m becoming an expert. I’ve had to go through every piece of paper Dad owned to make sure I found every important financial document. I had to hire a lawyer AND a CPA. And then…(this is the best part)…I had to call all of the doctor’s offices sending me late notices on Dad’s medical bills and assure them that I’d pay the balances as soon as his estate was in probate and I was authorized to do so.

“Oh, your father died?”

Yes. He died. Which makes your “Final Notice” medical bills very awesome to receive. Maybe you meant to send a sympathy card instead? And in case I didn’t say it before…Thank you for your services. They obviously failed. He died. And the fact that I still have to pay you for those services even though he’s dead makes me want to stab someone in the eyeballs.

But I’m not bitter.

Does the packaging help lesson the sadness of the contents?

My point? I wouldn’t wish this type of stuff on my worst enemy. And we’re still months away from being done. The silver lining? I have had an excuse to buy cute office supplies. I do seek solace in knowing that my Dad would totally appreciate me using this as an excuse to buy a label maker. (I’ve always wanted one!) He is the one who taught me to worship at the church of Staples in the first place. Because – if you have to have a file labeled “Death Certificates” – at least it should be decorated in flowers. Right?


21 thoughts on “Paperwork filed…Lessons learned…Faces punched.”

  1. My dad is still dealing with a couple of accounts for my mother nearly 3 years later.

    Also, we found out no matter how many death certificates you think you need, the number is always going to be 5 more.

    Hang in there!

  2. When my mom died 8 or so years ago, I remember taking her will to probate, but other than that, I didnt do any sort of business things. I didnt pay any of her late or past due bills. I just sent copies of her death certificates and that absolved any responsibilites for her debts.

    (I love the cute folders. Maybe if I bought cute file folders, my filing cabinet wouldnt scare me so much)

  3. Oh, wow. I never even THOUGHT of all that paperwork crapola. It’s kind of like rubbing salt in the wounds. Once again, you amaze me.

  4. You know, sweetie, I think that photograph of the death certificate folder may be my favorite photo I’ve seen of yours. There’s something so poignant to it, it almost made me cry (and with Father’s Day coming up and the wound still kind of open over my own father’s death, it doesn’t take much these days).

    If it’s any consolation, the estate stuff too will pass, and, if not closure, you will find peace with this one day (maybe not soon, but one day). You’ll never feel good about it, but peace will come. After a year and a half, I have found peace, but it was hard won and after a great amount of war (with myself, with that thing I used to call god, with the universe in general). For me, that peace has come in subtle ways – like how I appreciate people (and things like label makers) much more than I used to, how stressful things suddenly seem like no big deal, how I discovered an inner-strength in me that was selfless and powerful, and how I savor the brief moments of stability that life does throw at you every once in a while. I learned all of that in mourning over my father, or to be honest, I had learned all of that before, but mourning my father made it stick.

    I love you. Call me anytime you need an ear just to listen that sorta kinda knows what you’re going through.

  5. My Grandma got dressed up on Sunday’s for mass and on every single Catholic Holiday and that’s it. WITH ONE EXCEPTION: When her septic tank was cleaned she got dressed up. She would say “I may have to deal with this shit but I don’t have to look like it while I’m doing it.” That was also her exception to using the word “shit”. I completely love the folders and feel for you on their contents.

  6. Somehow my heart breaks for you that you have a file named Death certificates.

    Sigh, my sister and I did all the necessary paperwork, writing letters, sending off copies of the death certificate to pension companies etc when my Dad died, to save my mother further emotional upset. I did cry down the phone to the tax people when I really was an the end of my tether. Sending big hugs your way.

  7. Reason #7893 Why I am Loving Your Dad – I also love getting an interest-free loan from the government.

    Also, I suspect he appreciates your choice of file folder for the death certificates.

    I feel for you Kim. Really, I do Last year, we had two relatives die and my grandma is the administrator for BOTH estates. I have been so worried for her because the stress is beating her down, but there is not much we can do to help her. Literally and legally. As you can imagine, now that you are mired in that same puddle.

  8. My grandma and cousin have been dealing with this stuff for the past year. My grandfather passed last July and my cousin’s dad (I guess my uncle even though they divorced long ago?) and his girlfriend where killed by a drunk driver in October. It is a huge amount of work, and it really does seem unfair that you have to do all this extra work. I knew from a friend’s experience losing her husband in a car wreck, that grandma was going to need several copies of the Death Certificate. We made sure we got them for her. So much much work. I guess if there is an upside, at least you aren’t looking at any kind of criminal trial like my cousins are. And you have pretty folders and labels.

  9. I saw your pretty office supplies and wanted to tell you that I thought they were great but then I thought that maybe that was inappropriate until I saw your last paragraph! :)

    I don’t know first hand how hard it is to deal with all of the legal stuff when someone dies but I have witnessed it when both my dad died and my grandmother. It sucks that you have to deal with all of that when you should have that time to spend with your family.

  10. Ugh. I’m so sorry you’re having to jump through all these legal hoops while you’re grieving. What a mess.

    But! Your files are adorable and I never thought I could ever love a label maker as much as I do. LOL


  11. Oh geez, Zoot. Good for you for learning to do all this stuff. Also you made me cry thinking of the label maker. My dad LOVED his label maker and some of our stuff (35 years later!!!!) still has his labels on it. He even bought me the “hippie” label tape — pink with purple daisies. Only I could get choked up about a label maker argh.

    You’ll get through it all, do not fear.

  12. How awful! I’m sorry you have to go through this! I will probably have a similar experience with my grandparents and mom. I will remember to buy pretty office supplies, though, because pretty can make almost anything tolerable! God bless!

  13. I just don’t know what to say. I’m heart broken for you and your family. I’m sad in general that every where I look people are ill or dying and I’m feeling my own mortality.

    The new supplies are a bright side though.

  14. Wow, that is just all so familiar.

    I don’t know that I have ever commented here before, but this post really struck me. My Grandfather died in February 2008, and I will never forget what it was to try to deal with the “estate” in the months (years? we are still in the thick of a lot of it) after his death. The taxes, the medical bills, the house…its just incredible. And the fact that many highly intelligent people still need to hire CPA’s and lawyers to get through it just burns me. It shouldn’t be so hard to get a loved one’s affairs in order, its just wrong.

    Good luck with everything though…it is certainly better now than it was in the beginning and I assume it will all be settled in time.

    (and woo! office supplies!)

  15. I think you’re doing amazingly well, not that that means you’re finding it easy. But I think you’re doing so well to keep your attitude positive ie the label maker etc…(I totally want one as well by the way, we have one at work and the other day someone labelled EVERYTHING on the ticketing desk with innuendo about what it was used for. it was awesome.)

    But yeah, lots of hugs :)

  16. Ugh. Yes, that kind of folder definitely needs flowers.

    I wish I could say it gets easier but it never really did. This August will mark 7 years since I lost my dad and I still remember all of that mess of probate and everything else lik eit was yesterday.

    Please remember that you’re not alone and there are definitely those of us out here that understand.

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