Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Surviving Grief {Part 3 Taxes}

 "...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." As written by Benjamin Franklin in 1789 and this quote still holds true.

I can honestly say I am relieved that tax year 2014 is over for me. I had an appointment with a new tax preparer last week. I had so many things that were thrown into the mix, financially, that there was no way I could hold myself together to do my own taxes this year.  I'd like to think of myself as pretty savvy when it comes to finances and saving money, but having a professional's opinion really calmed my nerves.  My father's preparedness also made the transition easier for me.

Items That Were Different In 2014

  • Probate was not an issue, as I was the sole heir.
  • My pops and I prepared a deed title transfer for their home into my name. Had it notarized. All I had to do was file it with the County upon his death. I paid off the house and paid the property taxes.
  • All of the bank accounts had my name on them (not beneficiary, but I actually had access to all funds).
  • We completed a Power of Attorney for Finances and Health. Had it notarized.
  • I was beneficiary to two IRAs/Annuities. Since he was of age, it was mandatory to take the minimum distribution from all accounts. The beneficiary has a choice of withdrawing one lump sump or payments. I decided to take the absolute minimum. I also chose for them to take out taxes at the same time, rather than paying them at the end of the year. I let Federal take 20% and State take 15%. I knew I was overestimating these numbers. (The company also gives you a choice as to what percentage to take out for taxes.) With this particular company, I have to withdraw the whole amount by five years after his death. In speaking with my tax preparer, she showed me what numbers will work next year so I don't fall into the next tax bracket and pay even more taxes. So, I don't have to be so careful as I was last year.
  • I was beneficiary to one 401(k). I took the absolute minimum distribution, again. I don't have to withdraw this one within five years.
  • I decided to roll over the Annuities and 401(K) into a Roth IRA for myself. It will be a good supplement to my already established retirement account.
  • Donations: I ended up having two or three yard sales and the leftovers I took to a non-profit thrift shop. I made sure I got receipts. Turns out, the maximum I can claim is $500 (unless I do an itemized list). I realized craigslist is the way to go to sell some of the stuff- more money in my pocket.
  • Vehicle registrations: I kept my parent's vehicles and sold mine. Had three to write off.
  • Turns out, I didn't have to file final taxes for my parent's this year, as their Social Security income was low.


I am, by no means, rich off of the inheritance. My father was smart with his money and I see this as a good security for my future, and also a decent emergency fund if I were to ever lose my job.  I've made it passed the first year without any crazy emotional decisions, in terms of money and spending.

This closes a major chapter. I was so stressed for these things to be handled correctly. I am currently working on minimizing my monetary accounts and continuing to streamline my life. I feel freedom - a great reward after making good financial choices.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Surviving Grief {Part 2 Dream State}

I'm grateful that my subconscious mind dreams in color and carries such vividness and emotion when I am asleep. I've always been a believer that remembering dreams the next morning can help with conflicts in real life. They give me an outlook to an issue I may not have thought of before. I woke up this morning with my heart pounding.

Dream State

I was out and about in the city doing errands and driving around in my white Tahoe. I get a phone call that my father is in the hospital.  I am rushing around and encountering every possible obstacle to get to the hospital. My vehicle completely breaks down and it ends up on a ledge upon someone's in-ground backyard pool.  I get out and I start running for my life through people's yards. I recognize one family and I think to myself, they wouldn't mind if I jump their fences (as the crow flies) to the hospital. I get to the back of the fence line and I am stopped with fear because their dogs heard me. The owner comes out and I begged and pleaded with him not to call the police. I sweet talk him and he lets me go. I'm running down sidewalks as fast as I can and his wife catches up with me. She stops me and threatens to turn me into law enforcement. I am so broken at this point sitting on a curb to a busy street that's in the opposite direction of my destination. I am weeping uncontrollably because whatever I try, I cannot get to where I need to be.  This next part is a bit of a blur but the next thing I know, I am home. I attempted to make two phone calls to my father. Neither time was there a ringtone.


One of the things I missed most was calling my father every couple of days. I really hadn't been on my own for that long, so it was always comforting to converse and get his opinion on things. My parents and I would have our own "Taco Tuesdays" where I'd go to their house, have dinner, and watch Sons of Anarchy on a weekly basis.

This dream just reminded me how much I do miss my folks and I will always have these fond memories of spending time with them. I jumped every time they needed me and was by their side the whole time of their down turns. Of course everyone wishes they had more time with their deceased loved ones. I am not unusual, I know. I'm content with the way things ended. We had a very happy and nice Holiday Season 2013. I don't regret anything because I was far from negative in my reaction to the last six months. I didn't hold back any love, I was strong, and I was right where I needed to be.