Friday, August 08, 2008

I've made a decision since something has changed in my situation. I have decided to tell you why I have been self-censoring and for the most part stop doing it. The trouble I've been having has decided to make itself public so I will tell you my side of the story without getting into sordid details.

When my dear Bear died, the whole scenario played out very quickly and I was mostly concerned with being brave and supportive and not thinking about him actually dying. He knew he had been putting off writing a will; we had talked about it for years and the will form was in the kitchen table for him to fill out and the papers making me the beneficiary of his pension funds. But he never got around to filling them out (he was a world class procrastinator) so there he was dying in front of my eyes without a will. I quickly filled in a basic will making me the executor and sole beneficiary. Despite what other people think, we had no real assets except the house and cars and a large debt on the land we had just bought. While I didn't like it, we lived paycheck to paycheck and when i was able to squirrel away a few thousand dollars it went on house repairs and maintenance. He signed his will in front of the assembled family, witnessed by his sister and his uncle, and I asked his eldest child, E, if she trusted me to distribute whatever money there was to divide and she said yes.

A month later and I'm plowing through the mountain of paperwork that pops up when someone does and I get to claiming death benefits on his super funds (pensions). Unlike estate law, pension funds here are distributed by the trustees of the fund unless you have named a binding beneficiary. I tried to get that form done as well but I missed that it had to be witnessed so the fund declared it invalid. Now the distribution of his 2 funds was in the hands of the trustees. By law, all children are automatically dependents, although not necessarily financial dependents. The children were not responding to my requests for them to sign the paperwork, and I made them an offer of an amount of cash, approved by their mother, if they would choose not to claim for the funds. The next thing I know I get a letter from a probate lawyer acting for E asking me details on the estate, my income, etc. I paid a whopping amount to get another lawyer to tell them there was nothing in the estate to be divided and to go elsewhere.

So they have all claimed on both pension funds as financial dependents. This is the point where is gets a pit tricky and I can't go into detail. Let's just say that E has claimed all sorts of things in her submission to the super fund that are either not true or irrelevant. She went through my blog and listed every time I bought something, every time I worked in the garden (to prove I wasn't really disabled), not knowing or including every time I couldn't get out of bed or all the bills I was faced with lacking the Bear's salary. She accepted the ruling of the first and smaller fund, as did I because I just wanted it done. The second fund is quite a bit larger and she has contested the ruling of the trustees, and now gone further to the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal. From my understanding of the law, she has little legal standing in this because she wasn't financially dependent on the Bear when he died and I was. It's not that the fund didn't award her anything, it's that she thinks it isn't enough. At any rate, it has pushed the settlement of this whole mess even further into the future. Since I will be out of the country for 2 months I may not get any action till December. Meanwhile, I must live on my salary which is much less than a normal salary due to the disability portion which is only 75% of my real salary. With the mortgage taking a large chunk out of that I will have to eat into the payout of the first fund which I had been trying to maintain intact to generate income.

All of this has put me in a state of high stress for almost since the Bear died so I am trying to heal myself from that while dealing with this extremely petty and invasive attack by his children. If they had ever shown any affection for him in the 16 years we were married, I would be able to see the point. But they ignored him, avoided him, didn't visit for years before he died and now, on the basis of a relationship built on phone calls, they claim financial dependence. It's not something I even have any control over because it's now between the children and the fund and my opinion hasn't even entered the picture. This last bit on going to the Tribunal totally mystifies me because she made the complaint before the fund made a decision.

So there it is. We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming. I am still going to the US and aside from a very few nights in 2 months, I will be staying with friends and generally not buying much (as if I needed more yarn or fiber) except at outlet malls and those American foods I adore and can't get here. I'll drink a lot of root beer, eat lots of breakfast sausage, etc. My sister is still undergoing treatment for breast cancer and BFLB is stable with her liver cancer but who knows with these things. I will also see friends and relatives I haven't seen in ages and maybe get a little family history done as well. Yes, I am taking a cruise in Hawaii, with my dear MIL. I have always wanted to see Hawaii and the cruise is surprisingly cheap considering what it covers. I want to see volcanoes and go snorkeling before I'm too old to do them. I have also learned that I cannot fly from the east coast of the US directly home without being in great pain from sitting too long, so decided to break the trip coming and going with a side trip. the Weaving School sounds very daunting but I have been encouraged by the the instructor to do it without a lot of weaving under my belt.

If I've further offended E there's nothing I can do about it and besides, it won't have any bearing on what either the super fund or the Tribunal decide since they are interested in the law and the circumstances existing at the time the Bear died so anything said or done now here is irrelevant. I have been very depressed over this entire state of events, which has also suppressed blogging, and I will try to push it into another of those little boxes in my head so it doesn't hurt so much that the one person I thought I could trust utterly betrayed me.

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