Archive for Estate Business

Death Certificates and Heart Failure

county-clerk-300x225Death certificates are some of the worst reading material you’ll ever own.

But they are necessary for the “business” after a loved one’s death. I suggest purchasing a number of certificates, with extras stashed in a file instead of requesting a few more and then a few more.

On a practical note, the mortuary handling the death will most likely create and complete the death certificate. Official copies can be obtained from a county clerk’s office*.

Insurance companies, banks, and similar institutions requiring proof of death will often want the legal certificate issued with the county’s seal. However, when handling my parents’ estate, the companies that requested an official certificate versus those that didn’t even want a copy of a copy were never predictable.

You will scrutinize the certificate, confirming the facts are accurate about your beloved: date and place of birth, full name, his or her “usual occupation,” location of the grave, and what is

The cause of death . . .

Will death’s cause surprise you? My father’s certificate proved unsettling. According to the one-page document printed on sturdy paper, Dad died from the mundane . . . “Heart Failure.” Read More →

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The Business of Grief

estate-saleI write these words now, influenced by last year’s memories. In the late summer of 2013, my mother had moved from a hospital to the skilled nursing facility (SNF) where she would die less than two weeks later. I posted thoughts on my Facebook page during that time. This was what I wrote several days after Mom entered the SNF:

Just before 6:30am, I call the nurse’s station…Mom continues non-responsive. Today, my older sister will meet with hospice and determine (again and as always) possible next steps. “What is best for Mom?” remains our guiding question while her strong vital signs and terrible weakness from surgery and cancer wind down an unknown path. I remain in Fresno, now engaged in the peculiar, unsettling chores of closing accounts. An email cancels her car insurance. A packed box is ready to return her Lifeline equipment. Sigh.

Mom was in Sacramento, I had briefly returned home to Fresno. The two California cities are roughly 160 miles apart, almost three hours of driving. With modern technology—from phones to texting to Skype—there is instant communication. However, with the emotions surrounding a loved one’s dying, a mile or a thousand miles feels like an impossible distance, a vast separation.

We knew Mom was dying, though she was yet alive. Read More →

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