Not Funny Then, But Funny Now: The After Death Checklist

Not Funny Then, But Funny Now: The After Death Checklist

By Janice Boyle

There are a lot of challenges we face when wrapping up the affairs of a loved one who has passed. Cancelling cell phones, social media accounts, and credit cards, are just a few of the small (and surprisingly difficult) things. In some respects, when my mom passed in 2017, I was “lucky” when it came to settling her estate. I was an only child and sole heir, her accounts were already joint with me, and we co-owned a house. We moved in together so my husband and I could take care of her at home for 3 weeks before she passed.

So compared to a lot of people, I really didn’t have to deal with much as most of her assets transferred automatically upon her passing which left me with some of the smaller items to deal with. Since we co-owned a home, we had a joint Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

When you start making these calls you quickly realize some organizations are better at dealing with estate related requests than others, and sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw who you get to talk to through the company’s toll-free help number.

It’s been a while since I’ve thought about any of this, but yesterday, I had to stop by a bank (who shall remain nameless) where I used to be a customer for some old statements. It was my third attempt (first by phone, then once in person) to get a copy of some statements from 2018 & 19. As is often the case, what seems like a simple request turns out to be much more complicated than what you would expect.

Sitting in my car after my unsuccessful 3rd attempt, I was reminded of dealing with this same bank after my mother passed.

The first thing we did about the HELOC back then was notify the bank of her passing and send in her death certificate.

I thought it would be a simple case of removing her name from the HELOC but turns out we actually had to close it and open up a new one. The timing was also complicated things as we were in the process of renovating the house for accessibility for mom and the HELOC was what was covering the costs. Certainly not the stress we wanted to experience while dealing with the recent loss of a loved one.

Here’s where it got weird. The players involved, the bank and the notary were well aware we were going through all this hassle because my mom had passed. I got a call from the notary to set up a time to come in and sign whatever documents needed to be signed to remove my mom from the deed to the house.

We agree on a date and time, and then he says:

“to finalize all this, your mom is going to have to come in and sign as well. She’ll need to bring 2 pieces of ID with her.”

I was so stunned, I just hung up.  Then I got mad…then I got even.

A week later, I showed up at the notary for our appointment, and when he asked where my mom was, I calmly set her urn on his desk. And 2 pieces of her ID.

I know we all have stories like this…care to share yours? I’d love to hear it.


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