Sunday, February 26, 2012

POD, TOD, Survivor

Groucho Marx once said, "I've never wanted to be a member of any club that would have me." That's how I feel about being a widow except I'm a club member and I hate, despise, reject and spit upon it with all my might. I'm sorry God, but you know how I feel so I might as well say it out loud. Some days are bad and other days are horrible; once in a very great while there will be a jot of laughter, some small smidgen of joy even and then the heavens crash down on my head and I'm there, on the kitchen floor, in a puddle, sobbing my heart out with the dogs crowded around giving me kisses and whines. It's not even been four months and already I am sick of going it alone; being strong, doing chores, farm work, house work, paperwork, estate work and always dealing with crappy people who tell me, "I know just how you feel."
~ the long road ahead ~
"Really? When did your husband die?" Then they look like a deer caught in the headlights. "Well, um, okay, perhaps I don't understand exactly but I'm sure it's not easy."

Really? Ya think? Well, there are some things one can do to soften the financial burden. If you and your spouse have vehicles, all titles, registration, insurance, etc. needs to be written as John J. Doe and Jane J. Doe or survivor. That survivor part is very important because it means the difference between extra work and extra money. IOW, if the "survivor" part isn't on the title or registration when you go to the Division of Motor Vehicles you'll need to take the paperwork from the Courthouse proving you're the executrix or executor. Additionally, you'll have to pay extra money to re-register the vehicle in your name. You're going to have to pay extra money to have the title put into your name and, while you're at it, have your beneficiary's name placed on the title as well. I paid to have titles made in my name and my sister's name or survivor. Should I pre-decease my sister she won't have to jump through hoops at the DMV although she'll have to pay to have new titles made.
~ Abbie ~
Also, if you and your spouse have only a will, and no Living Trust, you'll have to pay inheritance or death tax on the value of the vehicles. If you have a Living Trust, if it's written correctly, at the time of death, "everything pours over" in one's Living Trust and one ends up, on paper anyway, a pauper thus no death or inheritance taxes are paid. That's what I've been told but you need to consult your lawyer for details in your state.

At the bank...even if you and your spouse do not have the same checking account, both names need to be on every account. That doesn't mean you have check writing privileges or can withdraw money but it does mean, upon the death of your spouse, you can get their money out of their account and pay bills, etc. It also means you don't pay inheritance or death taxes on that money. For example: John J. Doe with Jane J. Doe as survivor, payable on death...POD. Another term is TOD or transferable on death; again, very important because you don't pay taxes on the money when the will is probated. And, even more important, you have money to pay bills and live on while you're dealing with all the minutiae of a death.
~ Sophie Lauren Butterball ~

I've said it before and will hammer away at it again...if you do not have credit in your it NOW. Open a checking account, savings account, get a credit card...but use it sparingly...GET CREDIT!

Lastly, I am not a lawyer, trust advisor, accountant, etc. I'm merely someone who was dragged, kicking and screaming, into this "membership" and am passing along what hard won information I've gained. You need to consult professionals in the fields in which you need help whether that be legal, financial, etc.

Go with God; trust me, you're going to need His help.


...Darlene said...

My heart hurts when I read your post. It's been six long months now and I was saying to myself (I talk to myself lot these days.) that it seems to be getting harder. I did join a grief group at a church and that seems to be a safe place to at least talk about how much this new reality stinks! Each state has different laws regarding how you handle matters but POD is critical.

Whimsey Creations said...

Once again thank you Sandra for putting such good information out. I've emailed it to myself at home so I'll have it handy. I'm taking a week off in March to do all of those things that need to be done that we've put off for years. Bless you. Hugs!

The Strawberry Mallard said...

Sometimes Sandra, I think that people blurt hese things out because they are uncomfortable. They don't always realize that when they make statements about "understanding", is in many ways disrespectuful to the other person. I do believe that they just don't know any better.
I once had a friend who lost her only grandson. When she retold the story of her grief to another, the woman replied..."I understand how you feel...I just lost my dog."(sigh)
I hope that it gives you some comfort to know that they are trying their best to empathise with you....I have to believe that their intentions are basically good, or we really would go insane in an insane world.
With Love, Nancy & family

vicki said...

Sandra- I've no doubt that through your hardship and broken heart - you are able to help so many people with your first hand advice. I'm talking note of all that you speak here- heaven help me if I end up in this special "club" but if I do-- I know I'll be amongst great and gracious friends.

Thank you for sharing your great insights--

Joy said...

Sandra-- thanks so much for sharing these necessary things during this difficult time. We all need to know this but don't find it out until its too late so your sharing is necessary and helpful. Thanks again.

Lynn said...

I just stumbled on your blog via Living Better After 50+. I've been a member of the "club" since 2004 when my husband died suddenly at age 46. I wish I had words of comfort for you but what I've learned is that grief is between you and God. All the well-meaning (and often insensitive friends) in the world cannot ease the pain or "fix" our broken lives. Only God and time can heal. Feel free to email me at if you ever just want to vent to someone who understands. So sorry you were thrust into the place none of us ever imagined we'd be.
Lynn at Cottage and Creek

Heather said...

Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! I have a question about your blog. HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com

Buttons said...

I am so sorry you joined a club I honestly never want to be a member of and I worry about that living on a farm and my husband also working construction. I am so sorry for your loss and I can truly not imagine what you are going through. I do know your words will help others who may find themselves in this spot. Thank you for sharing what you have learned.I do know it surely made me think. I see this was in February when you wrote this and I truly hope you are doing OK.
Hug. B

Suzanne McClendon said...

{{{hugs}}} I am so sorry. You're living my nightmare, having to go on without my husband. He has spent most of the last 73 days in the hospital(he's home now). He was septic when he was admitted on November 1 and they said had he waited any longer, he would not have made it. He's touched death's hand several times over the years; it scares me. I am so sorry you've had to join this club. :( You're in my prayers.

Teri said...

People say these things because they want to sympathize with you somehow and they simply do not know what to say. I lost my husband in 2008 and I find that I can now say "I'm sorry for your loss" with a conviction that I didn't have before my loss.

Let me share a story that will back up what you have said here. My boyfriend lost his wife to cancer in 2008. (We met when our spouses were in the ICU. I sometimes think his friendship and love are the main things keeping me sane.) They both thought that the house was in both their names, due to a loan that had been taken out several years prior. They never thought to check it out. When he wanted to sell the house after her death, he found out that it was only in her name. This is a community property state. However, with no will and the house in her name, he'll have to probate it and share the profit with her two children. She'd provided life insurance policies for the children because she thought that the house would go to her husband. It is a mess. The house is paid off but every year there is the danger of losing it to back taxes. It could have been resolved during her lifetime, if they had been thinking about getting her affairs in order, just in case.

I realize that none of us like to contemplate their own death. It is so foolish to act as though we have all the time in the world. No one should have to deal with financial problems and loose ends when in the depth of grief.

Small City Scenes said...

Interesting comments. While my husband and I never planned anything because i guess we thought both of us would live forever we did have a living will and revokable trust. Lifesavers. My husband name was Dave also and we were married a long when he decided to head for the other side. Dale Evans always said to Roy, "you know where HOME is and he would reply Yes, but I'm not ready yet." Be ready at all times. One may be ready but you are never prepared. Yep! I like this blog. MB