It's been so long and I have sooooo much to share -- so many stories, so many photos I've taken just for this purpose, but I have been totally and completely bogged down with the business of life, taking care of my Mom's estate, clearing space for Scott to move in with us, (His house was finally foreclosed on and he moved in last weekend, a blessing in disguise as this has forced us to finally be a more complete couple and a two parent family for Beau), there's just been so much. And the grief over the loss of my Mom, who despite anything I may have written about any differences we may have had in the past, is tremendously painful, just the hugest thing, unimaginable really and is still now, six months later, tearing me up daily. She was my best friend. I loved her so much.
For the first time in over eighteen years we are not doing our annual Halloween yard haunt, which really says it all in terms of how totally overwhelmed I am. You remember our annual Halloween yard haunt, the one that attracts over a thousand children and a few major celebrities and of course their children as well. Last year's big surprise was Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gylenhall, and her adorable mini-me of a daughter and son. It's just so weird not to have even a single pumpkin outside, so weird.
Everyone is so disappointed, but we took a family vote, (This included Esther and Concha), and I was outvoted, which, again, has proved to be a blessing in disguise as it is so clear to me now that I could never have pulled it off without doing serious damage to my already super challenged health, especially considering the enormous amount of physical labor and stress involved at what has been the most stressful and painful time of my entire life, to say nothing of the cost and the chaos with all of Mom's and Scott's possessions, (Plus all of my displaced things we had to clear out of several spaces to make room for everything), cluttering up every inch of free space, waiting to be sorted and sent off to the land of Pod.
I haven't had a break in so long. I just work and work, and still there is so much more ahead of me. An entire lifetime's worth of my family's cherished possessions all left to me to sort through and decide, in a kind of HGTV's Clean Sweep sort of way, what to do with. And then there are the cruel estate taxes, a whopping 45% of which has to be raised to be paid to the government. Can you imagine having to decide how to come up with an amount of money equal to the value of everything you have essentially already been barely subsisting on, little of which is generating any income, and then having to just hand it over to the government? My own home isn't even in my name.
Our once large estate has been reduced to a shadow of its former self, is in tatters and being fought over by lawyers. It's a heartbreaking mess that I am so glad my Mother and Father are not here to see, as they would be so angry and disappointed over the way things have been handled. Which brings me to the most important point; Just as I was about to begin to bring my journal back up to speed by sharing the unbelievable goings on of the last six months, and looking forward to revamping everything and making fairly regular entries again, I have become aware that being able to freely access all of this detailed and unfiltered information about me could be harmful to me.
For the short term I need to make my journal disappear while we duke things out with our totally incompetent, lazy, lying, greedy, and inexperienced trustee, (My once trusted friend and our family attorney quit just two months after my Mom passed away and turned things over to this guy who plans to take half of all of our income to essentially do nothing more than waste our time and say, "Hmmm... let me get back to you on that," holding private meetings behind my back, squeezing everything he can into the one trust he feels he has control over, again, without informing me, while playing keep away with over 45,000.00 worth of money that he has admitted is mine, and that we desperately need to pay bills and the people who depend on us to survive.
I am an extremely loyal and trusting person. I want to honor what my Mother and Father wanted me to do, and I don't want to offend our original trustee, who I thought was my friend. But his actions have led me to believe that he is obviously putting his own interests before ours, and the man he has possibly illegally entrusted our care to, for what looks like only four years before the entire estate passes to me, a secret that was also being kept from me, is either in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's, or has no concept of what a trustee is meant to do. My Mom's secretary and I have been left to figure everything out on our own and we have mere weeks before we need to file a very complicated tax extension, or face enormous penalties.
It was in trying to get this lazy over-cautious man to get off his ass and do the right thing by us that Scott and I learned just how badly and inappropriately things were being handled for us. I didn't know what my rights were. I didn't know that it wasn't normal to feel so distressed and alone in all of this, I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to be doing all of the heavy labor, the real work, while this guy did essentially nothing but compliment me on my intelligence while secretly handing bills to my secretary behind my back, and I certainly didn't know that this man planned to take half of all of our income because in determining what a trustee earns you consider, not the income but the total value of everything, you take the very home you live in into consideration and base the fee on that, so my home, plus my Mother's, (That I was being forced to sell), which didn't budge in over four months on the market on one of the most desirable streets in one of the most desirable locations in the world, which don't generate any income are part of the formula that is used to determine how much of what little we earn that he gets to help himself to. Oh how my blood boils over this. I had to come up with the idea of renting the house, waiting out this terrible market, and applying for extensions and loans on my own.
So basically, in simply trying to find a good tax attorney while my supposed new trustee twiddled his thumbs, and charged me for having my own secretary coach him and do all of the work that the previous trustee should have done, Scott and I began to interview lawyers who specialize in this area of the law, something we were warned away from doing by both our former and current trustees, "Oh no, don't go see an attorney, they'll cost you too much money, we'll just hire a CPA" Big sigh. And every lawyer we met with told us the same thing, "You are getting screwed."
It took me months to wrap my heart and mind around the fact that these people either don't understand or get who I am, that they underestimate and judge me in some old fashioned boy's club kind of way, and rather than having our best interest at heart, were hoping I'd just be a good little Catholic girl and go along without asking any questions or noticing that things were not as they should be, allowing them to give big fat chunks of what little we have left away to themselves, the government, a really bad real estate broker, (Thank God the house didn't sell or we really would have been screwed. Oh God, the stories I could tell you, open houses that literally were open houses, no one there to greet people, just stacks of the worst prospectus sheets I've ever seen, the front and back doors of my Mother's beautiful home flung wide open and left that way overnight had we not caught this, not once, not twice, but four separate times), appraisers they hired to push prices up or down according to their needs in order to justify decisions, important documents not filed, the most basic of notices never given to me.
It's all just horrible, super painful to deal with, and of course now we've had to hire a top tier attorney to make it all right, the way it should have been from the beginning, while the clock ticks down on our tax deadline, and I have to borrow money to pay for it. I truly believe that everything should work out the way we want it to in the next six or seven weeks, but in the meantime I really don't need anyone combing through my totally unfiltered earlier posts for information about me that might help make me look bad. So, here's my plan; I'm going to make this post private for the time being, and try to find some way to make the rest of my entire journal visible only to me. In the meantime please don't drop me and know that I miss you all very much, verrrry much, and will be back soon to tell you all about it.
I'm so sorry I haven't been able to respond or keep up with you. I send out prayers and positive thoughts for all of you all of the time. You have been the best friends a gal could ask for and I really do miss your companionship, sympathy, support, and friendship. Something I have never taken for granted and have always been so grateful for. I miss reading about your lives. I wonder how you are while I barely ever sign on to read my enormous backlog of e-mail, 912 at this moment, not including spam. I love you and wish you well. Hope to talk to you very soon.
Big Warm Hugs,