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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Surviving Grief {Part 1 The Estate}

I'm turning the tables a little bit and am going to talk about surviving grief. I lost both of my parents in 2014 within 3 months of each other. I was very close to them, so this was devastating. My brother passed when I was 15 and emotions of that time in my life have been brought back to life. When my half-brother learned of our mother's deterioration, he made it clear, I was more capable of taking care of her, as he did not have the emotional connection with her like I did.

Hence why this blog has gone by the wayside and my vintage clothing business has puckered out.

For my long time friends and small list of followers, this might not interest you and that's okay, you can skip these entries. I will clearly title them accordingly. I am at the point I *need* a healthy and creative outlet for these emotions. I hope you can relate and engage and if these entries help another, know that you are not alone. Whilst talking about such a depressing issue, I will try to end each blog entry in a positive, uplifting note.

I have no set outline in how to write about my situation. There are so many topics to cover and different situations that arise every day. I figure I will just type what's on my mind. I'm not going to be secretive, I'm aiming to be completely honest here. It might take me a few entries to get deep into my emotions, but I'll get there and I hope that my coping skills improve as time goes on.

The Estate

I inherited my parent's home, including all of the "stuff" in it. Mom and Dad were married for 48 years and lived at the last residence for 24 years. They weren't hoarders, but you can imagine the accumulation I had to sift through. Besides family photos, the oldest thing I found was a vintage green metal box, with index dividers,  full of receipts from their first apartment rental together in 1967.

I'm writing about the estate because it is weighing heavily on me at the moment. I was hoping to have the home rented out or sold before Fall 2014 but time crept on me too quickly. With a full time job, my own home to tidy and also spending a good chunk of time at Greg's (my Fiancé) home, my goal of cleaning out the house did not go as planned. I went full speed at first but then burnt out around October. Nothing got done during the holidays.

It's easy for people on the outside looking in, to say, "Just rent a dumpster and throw everything out!"

My father worked his whole life and very hard, for that matter, to provide for his family. Mom and Dad came from a generation where they took pride in their possessions and everything had a use. Just a couple of weeks ago, I listed a couch that was in the formal living room on Craigslist. I listed it as free because the Kitty used one side arm as a scratch pad. There was no way someone would buy it, even though it was rarely used.  When the 30-ish man and his young son left with the couch, I broke out in heavy tears. Greg was there to witness this raw emotion. I was crying over an old couch that I never sat in! I realized I was upset over the fact my Dad lived to work, providing for his family at age 8 all the way to age 70. When he finally retired at 67/68,  he was taking care of Mom. He never *really* enjoyed the retirement he had planned for himself.

In late December, my Fiancé and I decided to move in together. The pressure is on to get moving with the estate. Together, we have 3 households worth of stuff. I'm slowly selling off things and donating or trashing others. I am really excited to move on to the next chapter in my life and for 2015 will schedule time to stress/worry about the estate. I realized that I was consumed by it in all of 2014. I've said aloud that I will work on it only about 3 times a week for now. I don't have a goal as to when the project will be completed, but at least I won't be overwhelming myself to the edge. I want to focus on my personal relationship with Greg, get my hobbies going again and arranging "me" time so I am more calm and focused toward a happier path.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Shop Update :: 1950's Novelty Pocket Knives

During this long process of liquidating my parent's home, I came across a few of these neat, vintage novelty pocket knives. I decided to start the bids at .99 each...ends Friday.


Shop Update :: 1940's Pillow Sham :: Hollywood, California

Greg and I cleaned out his "storage room" and you know we all have one of these! He has this extra bedroom where items have fallen by the way side. It's his tattoo equipment storage / computer room / art room / old linen storage room. On top if it all, literally, is a 1950s daybed upside down. Based on our engagement, we decided to sell his home and for the time being, he will move into mine until we discuss what our permanent plans are and where we want to live. We had to start somewhere with liquidating and we started with that room. By the way, we got it done in an evening and now he can actually work in there. :-)

But, I digress... we found this 1940's souvenir pillow sham. He has no idea where it came from so he encouraged me to list it on Ebay. My hopes are it will find a home with the perfect matching décor! It's pink with green tassels all around. It is total Hollywood Glamour with drawings of famous Hollywood hotspots: such as, Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood Boulevard, Chinese Theatre (before they added "Man's"), and a depiction of a glamorous actress with Lights, Camera, Action!

Bidding starts at .99! Ends Friday...

Click here for the Ebay listing! - SOLD!