In my last blog post, I introduced my client Myrtle. My responsibility of Executor/Trustee for Myrtle’s estate was only a part of my relationship with this wonderful woman. My journey with her developed from our first conversation in 2008 and even in her 91st year I knew she was a lady that continued to be very aware of politics, what was going on in her community and how to stretch a dollar. She made sure she read the weekly flyers to see what was on special for that week and was frustrated that the sales at Shoppers Drug Mart didn’t start until Saturday when all the others started on Friday. She walked or took the bus everywhere she wanted to go. She thought taxis were too expensive no matter how bad the weather was.
She and her husband Jack (a Pharmacist, deceased in 1993) bought their house in 1951. This is the same house she lived in until she personally sold it in June of 2014 to a contractor. Myrtle told me long before she sold the house that she wanted to sell it to a contractor that would tear it down and do a complete rebuild. I assumed that the house she had lived in for 63 years had such sentimental value that she couldn’t bear to have others live there. After she proudly told me she sold the house to a contractor, I asked her why she went that route instead of a real estate agent. Her direct answer was that she didn’t want people snooping around to see how she lived and what she had. And, she didn’t want to be inconvenienced by people showing up at all hours of the day. She got what she wanted in both the sale price and maintained her privacy. Once the house was sold she immediately moved to a retirement home.
In the position of Executor/Trustee (ET) one of the first responsibilities is to secure the premises of the deceased. The day after Myrtle passed away I went to her apartment in the retirement home to ensure any important documents or valuables were safe. Once I arrived at the building my first encounter was with a member of the administration staff. I needed a key to enter her premises. The young lady asked me if I had tried her door since it might be unlocked. I asked her why it would be unlocked. Her response was that they were not responsible for securing the premises after someone passed away, or ever actually. They didn’t want to get caught in the middle of family disputes, or if arrangements had been made for other individuals or businesses to pick-up or deliver furniture or equipment. I told her I knew her god-daughter should have been the last person to have access to the apartment and she would have ensured it was locked.
The administrative lady said she would have housekeeping meet me at the apartment and they would let me in. I asked her if she wanted any proof of identification. She hemmed and hawed so I pulled out my paperwork which she reluctantly photocopied. I then proceeded to Myrtle’s apartment. Once housekeeping arrived to let me in, I was gathering up Myrtle’s jewelry and documentation when I heard a knock on the door. The head of building maintenance was there with a contractor to see what work needed to be done. He said he didn’t think anyone would be in the unit and that he would come back. I told him he could do what he was there for. Let me point out that Myrtle’s apartment was hers and I had 30 days to remove everything. They said they would only be a few minutes as they wanted to see if carpet needed to be replaced and if any painting was required. Myrtle’s body hadn’t even been released from the morgue yet! I became even more concerned for her valuables and memories and left with a box containing more items then I intended on that visit.
This retirement home is a brand that is known nationwide. The building is beautiful and the staff dealing directly with the residents is kind, patient and helpful. I never expected that I would have security issues with Myrtle’s personal residence. She would have been outraged at the invasion of her privacy.
There is no expectation of privacy in a nursing home, but have you, or someone you know, had an experience like this with a retirement home? I welcome your feedback. I would appreciate hearing the stories and making others aware of what they may need to know and do to respect the wishes entrusted to them. You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment here on the site, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the page if you are reading this post on the website.
Until next time,