Nancy Barber (nlbarber) wrote,
Nancy Barber

Baffle 'em

I'm in my hometown for my annual outreach effort, handling an exhibit for my office at the Sunbelt Agricultural Exposition. I'm also trying to make some progress on the sloooow efforts my brothers and I are making on clearing out my father's house--he died in June of 2009, so you see we haven't been pushing on this.

Back in the summer we finally had a mover get the furniture that B. (younger brother) and I wanted and bring it to Atlanta (older brother didn't want any larger items), including the TV. However, we hadn't managed to return the cable box and thus be able to cancel the cable. We're keeping the Internet service for a while longer, just for convenience when we're working on stuff. Anyway, on my to-do list for today, after getting the booth set up for tomorrow's Expo opening, was to return that cable box and cancel the service. Daddy had cable and Internet through the city, so the bill comes in consolidated with the water, sewer, and electricity bills.

I get to City Hall with the box, sign in (they don't talk to you unless you sign in, even though they seem to generally have 2 customers at a time max), hand over the box and remote to the young girl behind the counter, and explain what I want to do. Girl can't deal with this (she actually called for assistance on each task she tackled while I was there) and called more experienced clerk. This clerk asks the name on the account...and the fun starts.

The bills are in my father's name still, though are being mailed with a c/o to me so my name is at least there. Not good enough--the older clerk explains that a Federal law prohibits making any change to the account without legal authorization, so I'll need to bring a death certificate, will, or other papers to prove that I have the authority. (I somewhat doubt the "Federal law" bit, but there's no percentage in arguing about it in this situation.) I call younger brother, my co-executor, in Atlanta and have him fax a copy of our Letters Testamentary once I'd gotten her to agree that a copy would be fine.

Next up: what new name to put on the account. She assumed I wanted it in my name, and needed to make copies of my driver's license and Social Security card. I've never carried my SS card so that wasn't happening, but what I wanted was to put the account in the name of the Estate so I offered the tax ID for that. That was fine, but she still needed to copy some documentation.

In the end, I filled out a form that would horrify someone very concerned with privacy info. It had my father's SSN, the Estate tax ID (a SSN equivalent), and my SSN. She had the letters testamentary to link me to the Estate, so she did copy my driver's license. Then she really wanted some equivalent of a SS card to copy, but all I could show her was the entry in 1Password on my iPad with the tax ID number. She consulted with one other clerk, waving the iPad around as she did so, and between them they decided that was sufficient proof.

I'm now debating whether it's worth putting PDF copies of the letters testamentary, the IRS letter with the tax ID, and the death certificate on the iPad in case this happens again. I thought we were long past needing any of this
already--we went through changing the registration on financial accounts and all that stuff last year. I never thought I'd need 'em for the utility bills. Hmmm...just got the ad valorem tax notice which had been mailed to Daddy's old office, now in use by 2 cousins. Better call them and see what they need to change the address...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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