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Any guesses? This is not one of those jobs people really want to do. I am talking about being the executor of an estate. I am the executrix of my father’s estate, and it certainly is one of the hardest jobs I have ever held. I know a large part of this is because it is very emotional, besides being very time-consuming. The pictures above are me going through all my father’s photo albums from their travels – close to 50. Talk about having to be ruthless.
As a Certified Professional Organizer, I have written, spoken, and continually tout about the importance of being organized before you are thrust into this position. Because my father was very organized, he started many, many years ago providing both my brother and me with his personal information. This included such items as bank account numbers, life insurance policy numbers, credit card information, cemetery information, etc. As the years progressed, I got more involved in managing his financial affairs, so I was very familiar with his accounts, bills that had to be paid, and what had to be taken care of with the house. We were very lucky that we could keep him in the house in which we grew up.
I thought I was very prepared because I had everything organized. The operative word is EVERYTHING as reality set in. I’ve been working diligently with my estate attorney to get through the process. Finding out what to do to probate the will and to set up an estate account, dealing with financial institutions, insurance companies, and utility companies, paying bills, and keeping up with a house that is 2 hours away from where I live has been a very lengthy process. As everyone knows, it usually takes 2 or 3 times to get things done correctly. My mother used to say, if they can get it done right the 2nd or 3rd time, why can’t they get it right the 1st time? In fact, I was always very surprised when I only had to make one call to get something done. It did indeed take 2 or 3 tries. I can’t even imagine what it would be like if I didn’t have all the information.
Even though I had been getting rid of items in the house that were no longer needed and preparing the house for its eventual sale, this was still a house that our family owned since 1957 and had “stuff” in it. I may be prejudiced, but the things my parents owned and collected through their years of traveling were beautiful. Before we could prepare the house for an estate sale, my brother and I had to go through everything and decide what we wanted to keep and what we were ready to sell. Now that I think back on it, it’s a good thing he lives in California. He stayed on the east coast for 2 weeks after the funeral, which gave us a finite time to work together. We were very diligent and totally exhausted by the time we were done. Everyone grieves differently and in his/her time frame. We knew we wanted to sell the house as soon as possible, so we did have a timeline.
My father passed away in at the end of last year, the estate sale was at the end of January, the house went up for sale in the beginning of March, negotiations had to be made to sell the house, and settlement has been scheduled for June. Again, we were lucky to have sold the house so quickly. As organized as I have had been, there was still furniture I had to find a home for that didn’t sell, trash that still needed to go out, and a yard that needed to be mowed.
This has been quite the journey, and I can’t say it’s a job I ever wanted. I have learned so much in the past couple of years, more so in the past couple of months. My biggest suggestions are to have your “ducks in a row” for when you know you will be getting this job and be prepared to be very patient. What are you going to do to get your “ducks in a row”?
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