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There are so many things you have to deal with when a spouse passes away. Bank accounts, titles, bills. Anything that is in the spouses name or in both names is affected. Even mundane things like car insurance.

We had 'Esurance'. (Yeah, the one one advertising on TV with a cartoon spy girl about how easy to use their online system is.) This morning I tried to remove Anita from our policy, which is about to renew. Their online system provided a button for this next to Anita's name, but the transaction failed every time I clicked it. So I called their customer dis-service center.

There I was told that I couldn't remove a spouse from the policy without providing a copy of the death certificate. I explained that death certificates cost $20 each and require me to do extra work. Besides, what if Anita just wasn't driving anymore?

Sorry. They have to have the death certificate.

OK. Try this then: We cancel my insurance policy with Esurance and I start a new insurance policy with the guys who advertise on TV with a computer animated gekko. Would that work?

Yes. That works fine. They thank me for calling.

Somehow I suspect I am going to be dealing with a lot of this kind of crap over the next few months...


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 14th, 2007 02:55 pm (UTC)
Yep, my experience with my aunt and my mother both were that letters testamentary and death certificates were required a lot more often than we expected them to be. It's a good idea to have five or so copies. (I don't think they cost $20 each when my mother died, in 2001, though.)
Dec. 14th, 2007 03:08 pm (UTC)
I ordered six copies, but don't have them yet. The problem with the car insurance is that they were about to bill me for a renewal; so I needed to head it off soon or pay the full amount and wait for a reimbursement sometime in the future.

Another note to self: Start looking for a lawyer who specializes in this stuff.
Dec. 14th, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)
Jane and I worked with a lawyer who helped us with my aunt's death. Carrie Balkema was her name, as I recall. Her rates were reasonable and she was pretty direct. She's located up north on Roosevelt, but might be able to refer you to a lawyer closer to your neck of the woods.
Dec. 14th, 2007 03:17 pm (UTC)
Dec. 14th, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry to hear that Anita has lost her fight. You have my deepest sympathies.

I can recommend a good estate lawyer, but he's in NH which probably isn't that useful to you.

You probably know this, but don't respond to requests for financial information over the phone if you haven't initiated the call. I had several people phone for information about my mother and I steadfastly a) refered them to the estate lawyer we'd engaged b) told them that I'd be happy to respond IN WRITING to requests they sent me IN WRITING.

Everyone wants death certificates, btw, including the phone company and cable company! Though sometimes you can get away with just faxing a copy/photocopy rather than providing them with an original certificate.
Dec. 14th, 2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
Dealing with Estates
Though my uncle was in Florida when he died, he was a resident of New York, and let me tell you Washington State makes things so much easier. But for anything dealing with money you are going to need Letters Testamentary and/or Death Certificates. I ordered six death certificates and really needed several more than that, but a lot of places just need to see the certificate and will mail it back to you if you ask them to. (Photocopies are generally not acceptable.)

Again, my condolences to you and Riley.

Dec. 14th, 2007 05:30 pm (UTC)
One Other Thing
Don't expect anything to go smoothly or quickly. Wait for the death certificates to arrive or you will mostly find yourself blocked at every turn.

Dec. 14th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
I wonder if book stores carry 'death kits' the way they have kits for doing your own divorce, will, etc. Might have lists of what's to be done, standard letters for various purposes, etc.
Dec. 15th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC)
The only thing worse than what you just went through
Is now dealing with the bureaucratic nightmare of big corporations and phone systems of doom.

Dec. 15th, 2007 04:31 am (UTC)
HolyOutlaw is right. If he liked his estate attorney hire him/her. It costs about $3000, even if you do most everything yourself. Make sure that there are death notices in the right legal places giving people a short period of time to present any debts that Anita might have owed. This is proforma, and important, because it gives a specific period of time that you can be surprised by unknown debts. Then its too late. Sending bills -- large and small -- is a well-practiced scam. Sorry to say that you will be dealing with that, too.

Good luck. Call me if you want to talk.
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)
I don't have a helpful suggestion
I just wanted to express sympathetic outrage at the cruel Kafkaesque jokes large companies seem to like to play on people who are already dealing with the loss of a loved one.

When I worked for the hell phone company, there was a guy who had gone over his minutes something fierce while dealing with the death of a family member. He had been using his phone a lot and not paying attention to the minutes because that was the last thing on his mind, and he got something like two thousand-dollar phone bills in a row, because by the time he got the first one and knew something was wrong he was already halfway through the next billing period.

So, in addition to the grief, he had this outrageous phone bill that he can't pay.

I could tell from the notes left in the account that he had called several times. Every single time he called the person leaving the notes seemed sympathetic and wanted to help. And every single time there wasn't a single damn thing we lesser demons were allowed to do.
Jan. 2nd, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
On the off-chance that a good laugh would help:

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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