When my Dad died, I had to go through probate which, if you don’t know, is a court order that allows you to wrap up the affairs of a loved one who has passed away.
Along with planning a funeral, this was a brand new experience to me. I strongly disliked the pace with which it all went and the colossal amount of admin which included a lot of filling out forms and phoning people. Plus the cleaning up, selling of or disposing of a home full of his belongings.
At the time I thought it was the biggest project I’d done since having to submit portfolios of 2 years work at college. Except this time I was doing it alongside running a business. Or trying to!
People say “If I can do anything to help…” but they really can’t. All the creditors, banks and estate agents wanted to talk to *me*. If I had a regular job, I recon it would have used up a years annual leave plus weekends to have got it all done. With the belongings I had some much appreciated help sorting through them but it still seemed like a lot of work.
It took a year to get it all done and I know I’ve said it before, but sometimes I feel like I’m one of those punch bags on a wire spring that keeps getting hit and keeps springing right back again – 4 months after all things ‘Dad’ were done, I realised my Mum was unwell.
Cue a year of medical evaluations which concluded she was fine until eventually a diagnosis of bvFTD, which prompted my next round of legal admin.
I thought probate was rough. Probate was the warm up. Here’s how it went:
Power of attorney for Mum re finances.
Equity release for Mum to clear off debts
Paying off the creditors
Power of attorney re health and well being for Mum
Deputyship for my sister re finances
Guardianship application for her deprivation of liberties
Deputyship for my sister regarding personal welfare
Deputyship for my sister regarding medical care
Plus there was the change over of all of my sisters benefits from my Mum to me and new bank accounts etc in between.
Coming up, I’m going to make a claim on the bond for my sisters money that was spent by my Mum as a symptom of her dementia.
Then it’s done. I’m just hoping they both live a decent while longer afterwards. Not just because that’d be nice, but because if I have to do probate after having done all this I’ll go nuts!
But you know what’s driven me bonkers? The amount of times I’ve had to fill out different forms that all say the same thing and are all going to the same place. It’s like a punishment – like writing lines in school – and it’s happening to the person who is helping.
Why can’t the COP and OPG be friends? Why can’t the details I did in a personal welfare application be used in a finance one? The reasons for applying are the same (my family is crazy) and my name didn’t change in the time it took for me to complete the first form.
It makes me feel a lot of frustration and resentment. These are not good feelings to feel. Usually I look at how I can make a situation better in order to relax myself, but this is a system well outside of my control.
How do I pick myself up and get back to being lighthearted after the fog of bureaucracy has faded my enthusiasm? I want to giggle and have optimism but I find myself complaining about the government and saying things like “This ruddy country”.
Where did I go?
Luckily today, a little voice piped up in my head. A familiar voice – my own.
I was standing in a queue and some previous panic about not having enough time and not being good enough at planning had finally shut up, leaving quiet. It was in the quiet that I heard myself emerge.
In the queue beside me was a little boy of around 2.5years. He wore a yellow padded coat with the hood up, and yellow track suit bottoms.
And my little voice in my head said “Poor love. His parents have dressed him like a banana.”
And I laughed to myself.
There I am.