I am executrix/administrator/trustee/attorney-in-fact for quite a few in the elder generation, whether alive and dead or, frankly, somewhere in between.
When ULOB died, he had no will. So his only heirs at law were those immediate blood relations who survived him — SOB, BOB and me. The word, “heir,” has a connotation that one sits back and someone unknown official throws money and jewels at such lucky heir.
Now, back to reality. There was an apartment to clean out, assets to be gathered, debts to be paid and tax returns to be filed. And that means that at least one person has to step up and seek appointment by the surrogate’s court as administrator. Translation: At least one of SOB, BOB and me.
I drew the short straw. I don’t actually think we had a contest. I think SOB and BOB met when I was in the bathroom and decided that I was in charge. At least they apologized.
And so, I became the court-appointed administrator for ULOB. The gathering of assets and paying of debts were not difficult. Figuring out the fate of the annuities that named the two women of his life — AROB and POULOB — as joint beneficiaries, was harder.
SIDEBAR: All I can say that if AROB and POULOB had both survived ULOB and I had to divide these annuities between the two — well, I would not think so kindly of ULOB. AROB (z”l) made life less uncomfortable by predeceasing ULOB.
And then, there are three tax returns — one for the year in which ULOB died, one of ULOB’s estate and one that I have to file as the fiduciary of his estate. Every one of these measures different periods and sometimes counts the same money. “Whatever,” the three of us say, it isn’t going to bring ULOB back to life so we pay unto Caesar that which the Tax Code says.
Except we didn’t know much about ULOB’s finances. I chose to continue using ULOB’s long time accountant to make sure we covered everything. Continuity is important in these matters, And, because ULOB’s accountant was probably older than ULOB, I also have a lawyer overseeing things.
I sent the stuff off to ULOB’s accountant and hadn’t heard in weeks. I emailed the lawyer, wondering if perhaps the elder CPA had . . . . Luckily, he emailed me that day. “I am missing social security and pension information. Can’t do returns without them. Also need 1099s through date of death.”
SIDEBAR: ULOB never had very steady work, so who knew he had a [as it turned out, miniscule] pension? And because I am also consumed with Dad’s taxes, I forgot about the 1099 for social security. That was my oversight.
Aaargh. The latter request was easy. But what pension? And the Social Security Administration? The mail had stopped coming long ago. Oy Oy Oy Oy.
KILL ME NOW. I WILL MAKE IT EASY AND LIE IN THE MIDDLE OF SIXTH AVENUE.
I looked in ULOB’s decrepit files and figured out the pension source. But I had to email my siblings.
To: [SOB]; [BOB]
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:23:25 -0400
So, I learned that [ULOB] got a pension from the Equity League. Trying to get a 1099. Also, on the phone with Social Security Administration for a 1099. I am never being anyone’s executor again ever. [emphasis added]
I thought that was a clear statement of my intentions and future wishes. In retrospect, I should have had a court “so-order” it.
Actually getting the 1099s were time consuming but not difficult (but absolutely bloggable –especially at the SSA office — at another time). [P.S.: if anyone needs a guide through the morass, just call or email me.]
In four hours, I got both replacement 1099s. In triumph, I sent an email to my siblings:
Went to the Equity League pension office AND the social security administration and got both missing 1099s!!!!! I am basking the glory of a productive day. (although not so productive from a career perspective.)
But still I do not want any more responsibilities, especially since managing the world of Dad (may he live to 120) is a constant project. And then SOB, ever the protective older sister, sends me a reply email, gently quieting my fears about the future, all the while adding an additional burden:
[Blogger], Thank you for managing all Dad’s finances and [ULOB]’s will and finances.
I’m sorry but I listed you as my executor, but don’t worry as we will both be demented and incompetent so you will be excused from the task. [emphasis added]
After a moment of shaking my fist at the screen, I laughed out loud. SOB always brings me back to the proper perspective. We will both be in our 90s (G-d willing) and then . . . who cares? I will be executor. No problem, SOB. Bring it on.
The future is, indeed, bright and carefree, after all.