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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Just Deserts

Just Deserts No. 1

Sometimes, good things happen not from being planned, but as the result of a mistake. After the protracted and oft-times frustrating communication with the lawyer who thought he was onto a gold mine via my mother's estate, he's been left with absolutely no doubt as to what several people think of him. During the email to-ing and fro-ing, I copied my accountant on what was transpiring and at the end of it all, after the email I copied to my last post, he replied to me. Ooops though, he hit 'reply all' and his comments not only went to me, but also the shyster. This is what he read:

Dear Fiona,

You read him right at the beginning and you are well shot of him. The reason that they don’t trust you is because they assume everyone is as dishonest as they are – possibly a bit harsh, but you get my drift. He can cause you no ill whatsoever. Anyway very well said!

I will be going on a 2 week holiday tomorrow – hence I am copying to (name), who will be an extremely good ally! I will give her the files and she will look after you. (name), my PA, will also be able to help you. And if you want to use our office as a mailing depot, please don’t hesitate to do so.

I will be taking my laptop on holiday, so I won’t be out of the loop completely.
With good wishes,

my reply to him, and I pressed 'reply all' not realising the extent of the cc list, included the shyster:

Dear (name),

Most importantly, bon voyage and I hope you're off to sunny climes at least! I'll liaise with (name), in fact I've already sent an envelope over addressed to her, containing the notarised documents and first copy of mandate. As soon as I get the package, I'll be able to complete the other mandates and get them off, too.

I don't think your comment was harsh at all, quite frankly it feels as though I've finally managed to scrape something entirely unpleasant off the sole of my shoe!

I hope you have many hours away from your laptop and I'll be sure to get in touch with any questions, to your able team remaining at work.

Take care,


My dear shyster friend replied with:

Dear Fiona,

Thank you for sending payment of the agreed fees and outlays. I have read the emails between you and (name). I shall not respond but I hope that on reflection you both come to regret the use of such language.

I had intended to phone DHL to get your mother’s papers on their way out to you but the tenor of your correspondence with (name) has made me wonder if you mean the papers to go the (sic) Edinburgh. Please confirm your wishes.

Yours sincerely,

and this is my absolute final email to him:

Dear (name),

Obviously that was not meant for your eyes, but I have no regrets on my part.

Please hand over the papers to the DHL agent - they are aware of the destination, which has not changed. I obviously need to make sure everything is returned in good order from you.


Thank you all for the wonderful comments and suggestions you left for me, I would have loved to use them, one and all. Gillette, you're right, the assholes play a wonderful part in giving us a space, and place, to vent!

~~~~~~ o ~~~~~~

Just Deserts No. 2

It's on. I'm seeing my love on February 7 for six days. We're going to be trucking around his home town for a day and then taking a side trip to Chicago for the weekend. Then back to his home town for me to meet the relatives. I hope they like me!

I can't wait to see him again, to hold him again, to be held by him again. And for all that lovely stuff we do together. Oh yes indeed, those really are just deserts.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Check List After Check List

My life feels like one check list after the other right now. One for work, one for getting my mum's will through probate. In reality I should have one for my personal life as I'm starting to become very forgetful.

I'm pissed off with the ex-lawyer, I'm pissed off with my brother and I'm even pissed off a little with my sister.

The lawyer - quite honestly I was fit to be tied on Friday evening. Since cancelling his services (and well before he'd bothered to even come up with a figure to bill me) I'd asked for the return of all the documents left in his care at the time of our original meeting, with a collection date of last Thursday. All my arrangements have been made with DHL, they just need to have the package ready for collection. Let's not forget that all of these are documents relating to the estate and as he's not longer wishing to be involved, I need them back so I can get cracking on it all, with the accountant. By the way his fee note clearly states payment terms at 30 days!

On Friday night, yes FRIDAY night, after I sent an urgent email to find out if the package had been sent, I receive an email from him telling me that he's basically holding the papers ransom pending payment of his fee note. It seems not to matter to him that he didn't once mention this to me before Friday, the day after the papers are to be sent to me. This shouldn't matter too much, it's just that one of the documents I'm waiting to get back is the house insurance policy as it expires on 29 January. Tomorrow. And the little shithead hasn't had my documents sent back to me so that I can ensure there's no lapse, and no penalty for a lapse, in cover. Update: I sorted it out with the insurer via telephone, learned they had sent a letter to the lawyer which I never received and paid it using my credit card.

I'm also following up on something my mother left behind. A loan to the husband of a good friend. Unbeknown to his wife, he extricated 10,000 pounds from my mother in August with a promise to pay it back in two months. On her deathbed, she took me into her confidence about this and how it was upsetting her that he hadn't bothered to repay it, nor even talk to her about it. She only has the family home number to contact both of them and so couldn't call him. I chased him in an email, he lied through his teeth in his reply to the words that in the 'few weeks' before her death he'd spoken with her several times and she'd said there was no hurry. I checked with my aunt who had been staying with my mother (she'd been in hospital for some of that time and at home the rest of the time, with Irene present) and no, there had been no phone calls. Only confirmation from Irene, too, that my mother had been stressing out about it, feeling like she'd been taken advantage of. My last promise to my mother was that I would do everything to get this back from him.

Since that one email, he's said nothing, despite repeated chasing on my part. My brother, whom I took into confidence about it, has sent one two-line email. I've copied him on all my emails and upon receiving a copy of the last email, his words to me are: "If this isn’t paid very soon I suggest we give all details to (name of chartered accountant)". Well, gee, thanks Callum for being such a great help and support. Great suggestion, cheers, I love the "we". We've chosen to work with a chartered accountant, not a collection agency, hell this isn't even a lawyer who could threaten action on behalf of the estate. Honest to god what a dimwit!

Then Rhona. As if that's not enough for one day, she calls me in her morning to say she'd forgotten to close one of the upstairs windows when she left the house (she's back in Tenerife). And could she have a neighbour's phone number (which I'd given her twice: Once when I was over there and once by phone a few days later). I gave it to her and then she calls me back during her evening (and about 2am my time) - "ummmmm sorry Fion, I've lost that number, could you give it to me again." Insert an expletive or two here.

Hell, I'm even organising my mum's mail redelivery because she couldn't be arsed to go in and do that while she was there. But I'm supposed to applaud the fact she managed to get to Curry's (electrical goods store) with a receipt for a TV screen purchased during my mum's last days but returned. One piece of paper to one store. My brother and I already took them the actual TV screen, it was just that one piece of paper missing. And I'm supposed to not get ratty with her when she calls and wakes me up, for a number I gave her only hours before?

My boss hasn't approved my leave yet and she's gone off on a business trip, leaving me with so much work to do, it's just not funny. Well what was funny, in a perverse sort of way, was the fact she text'd me on Friday night at midnight, telling me she was worried about all the work my assistant was being given and that she looked a little worried at our last departmental meeting. Hello? She still manages to fit it all into an eight- to nine-hour day and muggins here is still pulling 14- to 16-hour days?

If I don't get to go to be with my love, this is going to be one majorly pissed off person. Even more than I am right now! I need that breathing space. I need to shirk off these two heavy cloaks I'm wearing right now. I just need to turn my back on all this 'stuff' for a couple of days and breathe again. In his arms and feeling surrounded by love and support.

Update: Said lawyer and myself have been in email contact again. I received this from him today:

Dear Fiona,

Please don’t let the immediate aftermath of the very sad death of your mother take a turn in a very unnecessary direction. I am not trying to disadvantage you. I have already dealt with the insurance issue, as you will be able to see from the attachments to this email. You need merely take on matters in terms of the SAGA letter of acknowledgement.

From what you have told me I know that none of the family are UK domiciled and I know that you know that reasonable measures to ensure that bills get paid are normal in every sector, including your own. The papers shall be dispatched in the way I have described and would already be on their way, had the agreed fee been paid.

I was personally engaged on other pressing business on Friday. I was not in a position to reply to you until now.

I can’t say that I knew your mother well but we met on three occasions and she was confident enough to appoint me as one of her Executors. I am fairly sure that such a turn of events, as we are in danger of having here, is not something she would have wanted. I do not want to add anything to your grief and my involvement can be brought to a prompt end at your own hands.

That got the blood boiling so I shot this back to him:

Dear (name),

Firstly, as you did not make me privy to the note received from Saga on 22 January (and it is now 28 January), I took matters into my own hands just an hour ago, and one day prior to the deadline for payment. I have settled this bill directly with them, through a charge to my credit card.

I can most certainly assure you that my mother's demise is not taking any unnecessary direction from my viewpoint. I am doing what she wished me to do, which is to look after her affairs. I am also doing what my father wished me to do, which is protect the savings and investments he made and which were passed onto my mother upon his death. You may have seen her original will, which noted only one executor, myself. The same arrangements were reflected on my father's will. My mother changed her will after her discussions with you. She was not fully cognisant of the powers of your executry (including but not limited to "fullest powers of retention, realisation, investment, appropriation, transfer of property without realisation, and management of my estate as if they were absolute beneficial owners") until I explained these to her and that is why she was adamant that I was added as executor.

Your fee note clearly states terms of 30 days and I will observe those terms once I know my mother's documents are on their way to me. I really cannot accept this late advice from you, after so many opportunities for you to advise me of your 'policies' and that this advice came at the 11th hour. I, too, do not wish this to get unpleasant but I really must insist that the documents which are the property of my mother's estate, are made available to me immediately as I am now sole executor. As I said, your fee note will be settled in accordance with your terms of payment as described in the said fee note, i.e. within 30 days.

You are right regarding my mother not wanting, nor anticipating, this turn of events. I find your comment about your relationship with my mother very condescending. While you may have met with her three times, she was my mother for 49 years. Please don't underestimate that. She had implicit faith in me and I am fulfilling that trust. She admitted to me that she was confused about the wording in her new will and that is when she and I discussed the reinstatement of myself as executor, a fact my brother and sister both support in my representation of their interests as well as my own, but more specifically my mother's and my late father's interests.

I will again repeat that I wish my mother's papers returned to me, leaving out if you so wish any documents you produced and which the fee note covers, i.e. returning everything as presented to you at our original meeting. Your fees will be paid as soon as I receive the package and well within the 30 days quoted on your fee note, depending on your dispatch date. I am fully aware of the terms of the commercial world, however it is a rare thing that the party to be paid has access to the form of 'security' you are now using. Also, please do not use the domicile issue against me and my siblings, you were aware of that from the start but never noted that would be an issue with regard to your invoices.

It is at YOUR hands, (name), that this may be resolved without any further aggravation.

Final Update:

Dear Fiona

My efforts to be tactful appear to have misfired, I had better be blunt. I have legal possession of the executry papers and I am exercising what is called a lien over those papers. That is my commercial decision, in all the circumstances. My legal right to hold on to those papers will end when my feenote is paid. If you want to wait for the thirty days mentioned in the feenote then that is a matter for you.

Yours sincerely

and my reply:

Dear (name),

I'll be blunt too. You really are a piece of work, (name). You have done your utmost to make this family suffer for your own pettiness. This clearly demonstrates to all of us that we have made the best decision possible in choosing not to work with you. My mother must be turning in her grave right now.

I will pay the note and will be reporting your actions.

And there's nothing sincere about any of this.


On reflection, maybe I should have been more blunt and called him the blackmailing scumbag I think he is.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It Worked

So, I told the lawyer who had so generously put himself and his partner into my mum's will as executors, that I wouldn't be using their fee-paying services with regard to sorting out my mum's estate. Surprise, surprise, they didn't feel they should stay on as executors in that case.

Now I'm working with a chartered accountant and while that will mean a bit more effort from my side, I'm happy to do that rather than be screwed by that wassock. He's charging me for his time so far and considering that had already reached 1,000 pounds in just two weeks, for which he's agreed a fee note of half that, I'm pretty damn glad to be away from him. Mind you, 20 pounds for leaving a message on the answerphone for my sister, and 250 pounds just to write to me setting out his terms, the money adds up fast!

The accountant has quoted a flat fee, with which we are all happy and now it's all about knuckling down to produce mandate documents confirming his services to each of the firms he will have to contact. I've done a few but am waiting for the files I left with the lawyer - they're being picked up today and couriered back to me. Yet another cost but I'm keeping tabs as I'm donating my time towards this but NOT the costs arising.

In retrospect, thank goodness I'm handling this as my brother keeps making stupid comments and Rhona is pretty silent, though she did at least thank me and said she'd never have been able to deal with it all. I don't mind this last service towards my parents, I know they always intended me to do this work, in fact a friend of my mother's told me that my mum had said, when she asked her if everything was in order about a month ago: "No, but Fiona will sort it all out."

A rainbow has just appeared in my world. It looks like my love and I might be able to have about five days together just before the middle of February. It's not as though I'm relishing the prospect of another 34 hours in the air, but we need to have some time together. Hell yes, we really do need each other. I miss him and I need so badly to feel his wonderful strong arms around me. Right now I need to feel safe and when he wraps me up and holds me close, that's the only time I really do feel safe and protected. I love him so f'ing much!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Thank You

Thank you so much everyone who has left me a comment or an email. I'm disastrously behind at work and even in my own life. My apartment is a shambles and I really must try to get to grips with it this weekend. Dear lord even my hair is a mess, being three weeks late for its periodic tidy up (hopefully to be fixed today at lunchtime).

I have felt so much love and friendship from all of you and I'm truly sorry I haven't had the time to comment individually to each and every one of you. Work has swallowed me up and on top of it there are still things going on with regard to the end of my mother's life, which I have been left to take care of. Rhona has been a bit of a help as she stayed on in the house, though not to primarily get involved in all these details, but more to receive friends and boyfriend for some holiday time.

I'm dealing with what I feel in my gut to be a shyster lawyer, the same guy who duped my mother into signing a new will with him and his partner as sole executors, and who was none too pleased by the fact I forced myself onto that little panel. Now I see what's going on I'm glad I did, even though it has left me with a lot of things to sort out, not the least of which is coming to grips with his fees.

Now I understand lawyers charge for their time - and charge VERY well too, but when he wants to charge me for his time AND take a percentage of everything that realises from her estate, I'm a little peeved. His defence: The Auditor of the Court will determine what is fair and equitable. My reply: I want to know how much we're talking about and I still do not see why you should benefit from the good sense my parents had in planning their own finances. After all, to close a Trust and pay it out takes the same amount of time whether it's worth a hundred pounds or a hundred thousand pounds and why should your income be dependent on what is in the fund?

Oh and to add insult to injury, he reviewed his fees with us at a meeting we all had with him and mentioned only the hourly rate. This has already become unpleasant but something tells me he's more used to dealing with people intimidated by a diploma on a wall (he practices in a deeply rural area). No offence meant by that remark, only there are a lot of widows out there like my mother, who couldn't see the sinister side of what he did.

I think what has struck me the hardest over the past few days is that I no longer have family above me and I have no family below me. Basically it's me and my sister and she will always, I think, be someone leaning, rather than someone to lean on. All of a sudden, I feel fear, I feel trepidation, I feel insecurity. Yes, this from capable, dependable Fiona. I'm suddenly worried about today, tomorrow, next week. Nothing specific, just a general sense of dis-ease.

As an example, my love forgot about IM-ing me when he got to work the other day and that became a huge issue for me. Feelings of abandonment rose inside me and I made a fuss about it. But at the same time I didn't try and reach him any other way, which I would have done a month ago. I just sat there feeling hurt, lost and unwanted. And a little worried as I knew the roads were icy.

I don't know what's up, it's just that nothing feels the same and I don't feel confident about anything, least of all myself. I hope this passes. Soon.

But after all that ranting, back to the purpose of this post. Again, thank you all for caring so much about me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I got back home this morning and went straight into work.

I'm tired and fuzzy but I need to be distracted, to be busy.

They feel strange. My home, my body, my mind.

Especially my mind. As though I can't trust it.

A simple calculation earlier today stumped me.

I kept going back to check it. Over and over again.

I suddenly feel all grown up.

And at the same time like a little girl.

My mum and dad are both gone.

It's a strange sensation.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The End Is Almost Here

Update : My mother passed away at 5:05pm GMT on Sunday, 6 January.

I got home as planned on the evening of the 31st and within 12 hours was sitting on a flight bound for London again. My mum is in hospital and won't be coming out. I can't believe the deterioration that has occurred in so few days of last seeing her and then seeing her again this afternoon. I didn't recognise her. She cooked Christmas lunch on Christmas day and between then and a few hours ago, she can't even sit up in bed by herself.

My sister and brother are arriving on Friday morning. I hope they get here in time because she's refusing food and is ready to leave us.

I'm tired beyond words, I'm so sad and there's not a damn thing that can be done any more. When I left her this afternoon, we said to each other "I love you". I hope it's not the last time I hear those words from my mother's lips. Or from her heart.


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