Ave atque Vale

So we are pretty much done dealing – and not dealing – with my late sister’s death.

Sister2 and Sister3 went to Raleigh and plowed through her stuff. If you’ve watched Hoarders, you can pretty much imagine the process. They believe they at least looked into every container. As a result there is a small box of some family things – I think we are talking knickknack territory here – and a larger box of random family papers. They believe these were packed without hitchhiking bugs, but anything I am sent will be opened outside.

The lady upstairs, the one Tina’s conman buddy was trying to arouse my paranoia about, has provided a home for the elderly cat. This is good, because it means kitty does not have to be trapped and relocated. And I suspect the lady has been slipping her food for years, so it may not be all that great an upset for the creature.

All Tina’s money, all the family stuff she received – expensive jewelry, silver, antiques, all the potentially valuable electronics – a laptop and a new tv, for which receipts were found, all are missing. Her bank account had less than $100. Last year she borrowed $5,000 from Sister2, who isn’t going to see her money again. She also  left a fair amount of credit card debt, paperwork concerning a half-dozen lawsuits, a pile of dunning letters, and an IRS debt of $170,000. All of this we are just walking away from, having no alternative.

Sisters2&3 did some shoveling out of crap but still ended up leaving mountains of it for the apartment management to deal with. They drove off with two boxes of basically valueless stuff and one of ashes.

We still have to agree about those ashes. Sister2 wants them buried, with a memorial service, in our parents’ grave in Mississippi. No one else wants this, or plans to attend any service. But Sister2 was closest to Tina (Sister1), being the last family member Tina still spoke to, and she seem to find comfort in the thought. The rest of us are tiptoeing around, hoping she will do the math, and decide it would be okay to have someone sprinkle the remains on the parents’ plot for free.

There is a bit of a history here. My mother’s wish had been to be cremated and her ashes scattered in the Chesapeake Bay, a place she had loved since she moved to Maryland as a child in 1916.  She was indeed cremated, and Sister2 then took charge of the ashes. Later, although we were all in town, she went out alone and poured half our mother’s ashes off the town pier without telling anyone else. Now I’m not a big one for ceremonies, but I might have wanted to at least decide about taking part or not. In any case, she kept the other half of the ashes and had them added to our father’s coffin when he was buried in Mississippi, a place my mother had spent her entire married life staying the hell out of.

Sister2 is one part sweet old lady, and one part stubborn as a pig religious fanatic. You never quite know which one you are speaking with. I think it offended her sensibilities to think of her parents not buried together, so she fixed things. In the long run I don’t think it greatly matters, or that my mother would have cared all that much. She might even have found it funny, which is pretty much where I have ended up. But I don’t feel like paying out cash now to soothe Sister2’s sensibilities about Tina’s final arrangements.

At this point Sister3 has paid out of pocket for all the costs: for the cremation, for a hotel room in Raleigh for two of them while dealing Tina’s stuff, and for supplies for cleaning and packing. Her estimate so far comes to about $600 from each of us. That’s without a memorial.

As long as the feds don’t turn up wanting to repossess the ashes, we should be done soon.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Oh man. The detritus of a life.

    *shaking head*


  2. Be VERY careful about the IRS. They want their pound of flesh, and they’ll scorch the earth to get it. If they smell even a hint of money left in Sister 1’s estate, they’ll demand it. Whoever appears to be in charge of the estate might get an unpleasant letter from the IRS in the spring (whoever closed her bank account, for instance).

    I went through this with my in-laws, who died in the same tax year, both as poor as church mice. My mother-in-law however received life insurance money after my husband’s death. For that the state of Minnesota and the IRS went after them, and they chose not to settle the bill while they were alive. Not surprisingly, my sisters-in-law, whom I hadn’t spoken to in years, tried to shake me down for the money. I asked them to speak to my lawyer, and didn’t hear from them after that.

    But whoever thought death was the end of one’s troubles never had to deal with the IRS.


  3. Well, there really is nothing.
    And she died intestate, so there is not even anyone official to deal with.
    I think they left the money in the bank account, not having official paperwork to extract all <$100 of it.
    No insurance.
    I think we can pretty easily demonstrate that we are out cash dealing with it all.
    Though I will remind Sister2 to hang onto her receipts for this, by way of evidence.

    And, yes, I will be watching out for them.


  4. Sad for all of you, staring down the end of a life that way, when it’s just so much mess and chaos. *sigh.


  5. ((((((hugs))))))

    Death, like life, comes with so many strings attached. Pull one and you’re suddenly knotted up into chaos.


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