April 7, 2015

Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork

Many of us are dependent on the Internet, smartphones, Kindles....all manner of electronic devices that keep us informed, help us pay our bills, even entertain us. Electronic medical record keeping is starting to replace written patient files and reports.

But, if you think that maybe the expression "paperwork" is not long for this world, think again. As the last several weeks have reminded me, death and home buying require mounds of paper. The wonderful world of computer-based information retrieval and processing remains somewhere in our future.

Since my father passed away in early March I have had to:
  1. Fill out stacks of papers at the mortuary
  2. Apply for more than a dozen copies of the official death certificate
  3. Sign forms when his death certificates were finally ready to be picked up
  4. Fill out a form and provide a copy of the death certificate to Social Security
  5. Sign more forms and provide a copy of the death certificate to close out his checking account.
  6. Fill out a form and provide a death certificate to the Veteran's Administration.
  7. Sign dozens and dozens of papers and provide a stack of death certificates to begin to deal with his trust and investments. 
  8. Alert the Post office about a change of address
Since we decided to sell our present house and buy another we have had to:
  1. Sign and initial a 13 pages selling contract
  2. Full out a 12 page detailed report on all known problems with the property
  3. Prepare a counter-offer form.
  4. Sign a counter to the counter offer
  5. Sign multiple forms for the Title company
  6. Agree to have a lock box put on the property
  7. Initial and sign a multi-page offer to buy contract
  8. Fill out and sign another dozen forms from the Title company for the purchase
  9. Sign paperwork to order a home inspection on the new home
  10. Sign agreements for service termination and service start up.
  11. Complete at least 8 on-line change of address forms (on line!)

My dad's situation will require at least another 60 days to wrap up and then file an estate and personal tax return next year. The house sale and purchase will require several more hours of paperwork signing on closing days, plus anything the various utilities and divers license people throw at me. 

America still runs on paper and ink. No matter how powerful the Internet may be, our trees remain in danger: we use a lot of paper.

22 comments:

  1. We just applied for a mortgage for our new home! Talk about paperwork! The application was at least 1 1/5" thick. Not kidding. We even had to sign a piece of paper for, now get this, the paperwork reduction act! LOL More paper than ever before! Paper is not going anywhere!

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    1. We won't have a mortgage on the new house - I hadn't even thought about the mounds of paper that come with that process. Get yourself a new pen, Roberta!

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  2. Bureaucracy + lawyers = paperwork. I guess it's mostly for our own good; but as you point out it sometimes seems excessive, protecting them more than us.

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    1. I think a good portion of it is Cover Your A.. stuff. We are a society that will sue at the drop of a hat, so it is understandable from that perspective.

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  3. Good thing you're retired so you have time to do all this paperwork!

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    1. How true.

      Welcome back home to Washington State from your winter time in Tucson. It sounds like you have the best of both worlds!

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  4. Good grief! That's an amazing amount of paperwork. But I can relate. I refinanced my home two years ago, and I think I went through 75 pages of forms. When my mom died, we had to follow a process similar to what you're facing with your dad.

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    1. All the paperwork keep a lot of people fully employed.

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  5. Worst still, in amongst the piles of forms somewhere is always at least one page that says: "This page has been left intentionally blank," but nobody ever tells us why.

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    1. You are so right. I run across them all the time and there is no reasonable explanation.

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  6. That picture looks familiar. You've never seen paper until you have seen my husband's office. He clips, copies or prints out anything he finds slightly interesting. He will print out an entire online manual. I can't convince him that there are better and cheaper ways to save and organize things. Of course he can never find anything. Whenever I mention the money wasted on ink and paper or anything else for that matter, he gives me his stock answer... the one he has been giving me for 53 years, "Yea, but at least I don't have a boat!" Gotta love him. But I wish we had a boat.

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    1. We just emptied a large file drawer that was full of the same kind of stuff..clippings and articles that are saved but almost never looked out. With virtually anything needed available online I don't get it. But, I am smart enough to not force the issue.

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  7. You forgot the part where half the places claim they never received the death certificate or you failed to check a box and must refile.

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  8. Bob,
    Last month my wife and I decided to purchase an AARP medical plan to supplement our Medicare. I read in the AARP mailer that we could do this online to save paper and postage, so we did. We even checked the box that asked if we wanted to "go green" and receive all correspondence online. Each of us had a 10 page application to fill out online and it was suggested we print out a copy, so we did. Not too bad, only a total of 20 pages, then when we received our acceptance letters, both included a printout of our online application. Now 40 pages to store. The letter suggested we fill out the form for direct withdrawal from our bank account rather than write a check, found the form on their website, only way to fill it out was to print them out and mail them in with void check. So far we are up to nearly 50 printed pages, so much for checking the "go green" box.

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    1. My favorite was the letter from my broker thanking me for having all correspondence on-line. Apparently the word "all" can be interpreted differently.

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  9. Yup. I worked for county government for 28 years & thought that government had a lot of paperwork until I re-financed my house & realized all the paperwork (much of it government required) THAT entailed. I've heard the comment that "computers will save us so much paper, we'll never have another file in our house----is the biggest lie told to Americans." I can think of a few other large ones, but that ranks right near the top as far as I'm concerned. We lose lots of trees each year for that paper.

    BTW, one use of the "THIS PAGE LEFT INTENTIONALLY BLANK" information is so that when someone sees a blank page they don't wonder what was left out. For example, in training manuals, we'd start a new section on the right hand page, but that sometmes left a blank page on the left & indicating that we didn't forget something saved us many phone calls. I believe Bob's comment about Cover your A. is also appropriate here, especially in legal/financial information; attorneys don't want someone writing on that page with information they didn't intend to be included.

    pam

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    1. Good clarification on the "page left intentionally blank" situation. I was sure there was actually a reason but yours is the first logical explanation!

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  10. We were fortunate when my mother passed away as we had moved all of her bank accounts into one of our names and we had sold her home.

    After her death, we showed up after 60 days at the bank with a death certificate and the bank had three checks drawn up, dividing her bank accounts among the three children.

    The banker who assisted us told us that we were the smartest family with whom he had ever done business and that we should give lessons to others as to how to handle an estate. There was minimum paperwork involved.

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    1. Planning ahead is the only way to make this process move smoothly. I was so lucky that my parents did all the estate planning and paperwork almost twenty years ago for just this situation.

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  11. I have yet to deal with the mounds of paperwork involved with the passing of a parent but my wife and I recently bought our first home to accommodate our growing family. Although there was as much paperwork involved as you describe, our professional realtor’s experience made the process stress-free. Our newborn on the other hand, loads of paperwork (and diapers).

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    1. At every stage of life I seems there are unique paperwork challenges. I hadn't thought about the paperwork and diapers aspect of a newborn, but right you are.

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