Registration and Deeds

I am almost (I think) done dealing with the aftermath Kramer’s death…not the emotional grieving part obviously, but the government, paperwork type stuff.  I had thought I was done midsummer after I dealt with the bills (except the hospital), insurance and retirement.  I wasn’t.  Unbelievably, I had the hardest one to deal with this month.  Here’s the story…

The registration for our pick up always comes due in September.  So in August I got the bill in the mail and immediately sent a check and paperwork to get them renewed.  Well a few days later I got a call from the DMV at the courthouse.  They said I needed to come in.  I had to have the title and a death certificate for Kramer.

I thought that was weird.  We are both listed on the registration.  But I know nothing about all of this so I scrounged around and located the title and got the death certificate.

My next problem it’s open 8-4 Monday through Friday.  UGH.  Those hours don’t work for me.  So I tried to coordinate with Kelli or Kalissa to see if they would finish up childcare for me one day.  Finally one day when I was going to Lacrosse, Kalissa came earlier than needed and I stopped on my way.

After getting help and some time with the clerk I found out I had the wrong title for the pickup.  This was an old title.  Apparently we, at some point, used the truck as collateral and the bank had the title.  UGH..Now I have to deal with the bank.  It peeved me as the guy could look up and see the title but I had to go home, find the title and come back again.  It was so hard to get there in the first place.  Blah.

So as I started driving to Lacrosse I called the bank.  I still owe some on the house but not so much that the bank needed the title of the pickup to secure the loan so I was going to ask the bank if they could get the title back to me.  I did and then explained that I would be out of service for my phone so they could message me when they found it.

I got to Lacrosse.  The bank had messaged me.  No.  They didn’t have the title.  CRAP.  Then where was it??

Once home I looked in the usual places.  No truck title.  Then I decided it must be in the safe deposit box.  Again…a few days passed until I could coordinate with Kelli so I could get to the bank during business hours so I could get into the safety deposit box.  Nope.  No title in the safe deposit box.  This is getting ridiculous.

So…I called the bank again and asked them to do a thorough search.  I asked that if they didn’t have the title, that they sign a paper that states that they are not holding it for collateral.  I told them that it might be located with the house note.

Thankfully two of my childcare moms work at the bank and do a great job watching out for me.  I told one of the moms how frustrating this was for me and she said she’d make sure she’d do what she could (not they aren’t helpful for anyone ), but I knew she really would look.

By the end of business day, the title was located.  Then I asked if my childcare mom could bring it to my house when she came to pick up or else I would have had to coordinate again with Kelli or Kalissa to get to the bank again during business hours.  AHH…it so hard when places don’t have business hours conducive to my childcare hours.

So with title in hand…and death certificate and the previous paper, I coordinated with Kelli to watch the childcare kids so I could get back to the DMV at the courthouse and get this all taken care of.  In the end, I had to “sell” the truck and “buy” the truck so I was the sole owner.  AHH.  It was dumb and such a hassle.

The story doesn’t end there….Our property taxes were also due in September.  So I called to the courthouse to ask about that.  I was sure I was going to have to go in and do the same dumb thing only this time with the house instead of the truck, after all, the house is in both of our names.

I called and asked…do I need to come in?  Do I need a death certificate?  What were their hours?

The lady on the other end of the phone was dumbfounded by my questions.  She said, “Why would you think that?”

I went on to explain all the trouble I had getting the registration for the pick up.  She told me it was my business who was on the deed to the property.  They didn’t care if Kramer’s name was still on the deed and if I didn’t want it on the deed I could get a lawyer to take it off.  All they cared about was if I paid my property taxes.

She actually made me feel really stupid for asking.

Does that make sense to anyone?  Wouldn’t you think it’s more important that I’m listed as the sole owner of the house vs the sole owner of the pickup.  I think it’s downright ridiculous.

Anyway…Now I think I’m done with the paperwork side of death…what a time of it it’s been.  My personal advice is to make a list and tackle one thing at a time.  That list can really be daunting if you try to do it all at once.  In a way I’m so thankful that Kramer went first.  He would have hated all of this.  To be truthful.  I think he would have ran the truck without an updated registration.  He hated any kind of paperwork and running around that getting things figured out involved.

On a side note.  We were asked at the funeral home how many death certificates we wanted.  They went on to explain that many places, life insurance, retirement, bank, and such places wanted a death certificate.  They suggested getting a few copies.  $30 each.  I ended up telling them to get me three.  In the end, I only needed one.  Most places need to see the original and make a copy in their office to keep.  Just thought I’d let you know so you can save yourself the extra money.

Did I mention I too hate paperwork crap like this???  Like I said…I think this is the last thing.  I hate saying that as something might jump yet.  I don’t want to jinx anything.

30 thoughts on “Registration and Deeds”

  1. Awe Jo, I’m so sorry you are going through this. Like you said one thing at a time. Hopefully this really will be the last thing you have to deal with. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Love, hugs and prayers coming your way.

  2. What a mess! Sometimes our government red tape is absolutely ridiculous! So sorry you had to deal with all this!

  3. I know what you mean about spouses not being as able to take care of things. During my 6 weeks of hospital and skilled care, I had to ask Bob to do many things he’s not accustomed to doing. I handle all the bills, but I wasn’t home, so he had to. I pay most of them online but he only knew to write checks and mail them in. I told him I could still pay them online if he’d tell me the amounts, etc. Between us, we managed to get most of them covered successfully.

    But the DVR, what a challenge! I knew it would have to be getting filled up, so we had to talk about what to delete, how to set series, delete series, etc. That wasn’t quite so successful. But who cares? It’s only tv. I watch way too much anyway…lol

    I’m glad you took care of the title, despite it being such a hassle. You are a rock star with all that you have had to deal with. Things we never thought about and can’t really prepare for.


  4. I’ve been widowed 7 yrs. Two months ago I got a letter about money (only $170) due to my husband and had to send copies of marriage and death certificates. I haven’t heard back so hopefully I won’t have to do anything else.
    I’ve had things pop up almost every year so just keep extra copies on hand so.
    I hope you don’t have any more pop up. Hugs.

  5. Wow! When my husband passed away I only had to have a copy of the death certificate, titles and my letter of administration at the DMV. I was issued new titles for $10 each as all the vehicles were in his name only. The deed has been a different story. He had purchased the house from his mother several years before we were married so the property was again only in his name. We had built a new house with the loan in both our names with the property as collateral. While the taxes are in my name, the deed remains in his name until the lien is released and then I have to go to a lawyer and have a new deed made, whereas if the deed had been in both our names it would have been so much simpler.

  6. How ironic that you write this blog post today. I my husband just passed last month and this morning I have an appointment with the probabte court to probate his will. The paperwork journey for me will begin Today. Thanks,for,the advice.

  7. My brother went through something similar when my mom passed. It’s been a year and her estate still has not been settled. You would think that banks, etc would be more helpful with the bereaved but apparently not. :-( Praying that this is the last of it and if it isn’t, that it’s much easier I you.
    Love and prayers

  8. I had the same problem re-registering the car after my husband died. It took multiple phone calls and trips to the DMV. So frustrating!

  9. My son died 4 years ago. Just this week, he got a letter from the DMV saying he needed to come in and get a real ID. We let the DMV know 4 years ago that he had died, so that no one else could apply for a license in his name. I’m just going to ignore the latest letter, and if the DMV calls, I’ll tell them he doesn’t live here anymore. I also get CVS coupons in his name and some grocery store ones. My heart always gives a little jump when I see his name on mail.

  10. My cousin even needed the death certificate to change something with her home phone. Really? It seems like they try to make it as difficult as possible! So sorry

  11. I’ve been navigating the same things as you with my mom since my stepdad died in April. We made three trips and spent untold hours at the DMV (and it’s not filled with pleasant, helpful people!)
    The funeral home insisted she needed five death certificates, the lawyer said get ten!! I refused. So far we still have the original five, like you everyone we have dealt with only wanted to SEE and copy the original. And this included the DMV, SS, bank and insurance.
    Also, like you, her lawyer advised to leave his name on the house. This makes me nervous as this was a second marriage but with everything else, I’m just letting this go at the moment.
    I think the most frustrating part of this entire journey had been the conflicting information we’ve received from the so-called experts. For example, the lawyer told us the bank didn’t know what they were talking about and the bank said the same about him. Who to believe?
    You are definitely performing a public service by sharing your experiences so openly through your blog. You’ll never know how many people you may have helped.

  12. When my father passed away I was helping my Mom with her financial things. I thought I had tackled them all and then 6 months later . the electric bill came with a notice stating that my Mom must put the bill in her name soley now that he had passed and that there was a 175.00 transfer fee. I couldn’t believe it. I was miffed to say the least. Then in turn they notified the Waste Disposal co and let them no that he was deceased and they stopped picking the garbage up because it was in his name and not hers,and charged 50.00 to start a new account in her name. I guess you can figure out how I felt about that! We live in a small town with their own electric co and waste disposal are tied together with seperate billings of course. Anything to make money . It is so upsetting when everything is so fresh and your money is tied up with the system. So sorry that you have to go through something that is really trivial and is nothing more than an annoyance.

  13. My friend’s father had to go to DMV nine times to change the car registration from his deceased wife to him. Each time, they gave him so ridiculous reason why they couldn’t do it. He finally went to a different DMV office, and they immediately processed the change (and said he should have been able to do it long before that point at the other office!). You would think “they” would be at least a little understanding considering the circumstances. So sorry it was so complicated for you.

  14. If you sell your house, you will have to give them a death certificate. Or you can go to the courthouse and bank now and have it removed. Every single thing his name is on has to be corrected. It’s very stressful.

  15. Karla (threadbndr)

    Jo, having done this (and still dealing with some stock certificates), be sure you always keep one copy of the death certificate in the safety deposit box AND one at the house. You’ll be surprised at the random times you’ll need it. I don’t know if Kramer was in the military, but ditto on the DD214.

    As far as the house, do have them change the deed once you have the mortgage paid off. If you would ever need to take out another mortgage, you’ll have to fix it then anyhow. We were joint tenants in common, so the title to the house was actually one of the easier things to fix.

    Keep putting one foot in front of the other. It will get…..better-ish.

  16. Back in the day (when I worked in a bank) people often had WROS (with right of survivorship) or WJROS (with joint right of survivorship) on their titles. I don’t think that is done that much nowadays, Wonder if that would have helped prevent this for you.

  17. I just had a discussion with my son about DMV not having convenient hours. We think they should at least be open on Saturday for people who can’t get there during the week. Don’t get me started on unhelpful govt employees. This kind of thing should be made as easy as possible for those in your situation especially when your name is on the title. When my dad passed away the only thing my mom did was change the car title. She left everything else in his name including utility bills. It turned out to be easier for her and the utility companies didnt seem to care as long as they got their money. When she passed away I continued to pay them until her house sold. The only thing I had to do was have a copy of my parents death certificates and the court order making me executor of the estate. I guess each state is different in how they do things but there is no reason to make things more difficult than they should be.

  18. The old saying…’what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” comes to mind. I had to do this with my parents (long divorced) so it was all x 2 separate properties full of furniture and many vehicles. Was exhausted and was a teacher then who couldn’t get much time off to see about things. It is frustrating but one day it will settle down for you I hope. When things got stupid I just got quiet and stared and I figured they thought I didn’t have a full deck and left me alone. Was a joyous day. Try it if things get hairy again.

  19. Mary Ann Mettler

    I am sure the list of things is different for everyone but is there a comprehensive list out there that one has to consider when dealing with the death of a loved one? I remember when my parents died that we did get several death certificates for instance but since my brother took care of the legal things I have no idea if he needed them all. Of course he was out of state so I suppose he had to send in the certificates as he could not always be present. I hope to not have to deal with any of this but do admire you Jo and thank you for sharing – I do hope all the financial things are taken care of. One step at a time.

  20. Paperwork requirements by different places are crazy. I got married 14 years ago. Called up the credit card companies to change my name on the cards. . .they all took care of that & changed my name on the account. . . except for one bank that insisted that they needed a copy of the marriage certificate before they would change the name on my account.

    So, for the past 14 years they have been happily cashing my checks, with the new name, without a problem; but their mail still comes to my maiden name.

    And all the utilities still come in my maiden name. . . .but they gladly accept my checks with a different name.

    It should be fun to see what hoops we have to go through when we are ready to sell the house. . . .the deed is in my maiden name since I owned the house before I met my husband) and his name is not on the deed, but it is on the mortgage when we refinanced.

  21. My sympathies to you in getting back to your new normal. One thing I’ve learned in dealing with my Father’s death is double check all your bank accounts and your POD (pay on death) to ensure they are still accurate. Banks get sold and they do not care to make sure the accounts are set up properly in the new banks. You have to prove everything. The ones I’ve encountered have cared less about their paperwork being accurate. Check any certificates of deposit you have as I heard from the banker herself, how her boyfriend who had divorced his wife had multiple CD’s that were supposed to be left to various children and some to her when he died. They verified that no, the bank had reverted the beneficiary to the ex-wife. Fortunately this happened before he died so he was able to correct. I held banks in a higher regard before dealing with this, now I realize they hire very nice social people up front but really its just a business on the corner. Don’t put your faith in them.

  22. My husband passed 6 yrs ago and if memory serves me right, I believe I got 8 original death certificates and only paid $3.00 each for them. They were really cheap to reorder because I had to get more copies. I cannot believe you had to pay $30.00 each for them….that is absurd!!

  23. MY BIL died a year ago. He was a hoarder — tools mainly. My hubby was appointed via the lawyer as Personal Representative. It has taken him and me a year to clean that place out with no help from the other siblings. We not only had to provide the death certificate but the Letters of Administration. The only thing we have left to do on this whole affair is close on the house and that is happening soon. I wish you well.

  24. Hi Jo, I wanted to make a suggestion about the house title. You may want to get the deed in your name only b/c down the road someone else is going to have to deal with names on the deed. I know from reading your blog, you would not want the kids to deal with added complication of Kramer’s name too. Just a thought. The attorney fee will probably be less than the aggravation. I sure hope this helps and doesn’t add to your burdens.

  25. The paperwork journey of each death is certainly different. Our father passed, then our brother, then our mother. We had different amounts of death certificates each time. By the time our mother passed, we had to have copies of all of their death certificates for some places. And yes, some places did keep them.My sister was primary and I was secondary and we ended up getting copies for the 4 siblings and made sure our nephew had a copy of his father’s death certificate while my sister kept one. Mom had Alzheimer’s so that complicated things as there were a few things we didn’t even know about until after her death. A funny/sad DMV story. My husband was career Navy and drove for years with an expired license and a form from Illinois DMV saying he was active duty military and didn’t have to renew. When he retired in 2002 and we moved back to Illinois, he went to the DMV in the small town he had not lived in for 20 years and he got a license without any trouble using the address for the house in another part of the state we had bought but not moved into. I got a new license with each state we lived in without any trouble and went to the same DMV expecting no trouble. The clerk I got would not issue me a license because I might be a terrorist! Remember this was 2002. My last license in Illinois was under my maiden name and even though I had my high school and college ID’s with my maiden name and picture on them, a military ID and a current license from Virginia also with photos on them; I had to drive 45 miles to get a certified marriage certificate. I even worked with 2 of the other clerks and they vouched for me, my inlaws vouched for me, people in the community vouched for me. Nothing doing, she was not going to give me a license because I might be a terrorist. Once I presented the marriage certificate, she refused to give me a license because I had to have mail proving where I lived. So I sent myself a letter to the new address which was returned because “no one by that name lived at that address”. Meanwhile, we moved into our new house and I went to the DMV in a larger metro area and they gave me a license without batting an eye. Sure, I waited 3 hours having 2 children with me and the people at DMV were unfriendly but I got a license.

  26. Jo, I so appreciate all that you share about dealing with things after the death of a husband. My husband had prostate cancer 4 years ago (I think). He had surgery, but the cancer had escaped, so he underwent radiation and hormone therapy. At the moment he is cancer free, but it was a very aggressive form, so it could come back any time. I gave him to the Lord when all this was going on, but I am so very thankful that I still have him. I like your idea of making a list. My husband has always dealt with the business side of life. But you are reminding me that I need to get more involved with it, so that I am better prepared if the Lord does decide to take him before me. We are both 77.

  27. Jo,
    Please do contact an attorney to get the deed to your house in your name. It’s so much easier to do when you are alive. Otherwise your kids will have to also prove he died to get things switched. An attorney can advise you what else you might want to do to save you and/or your children headaches later on. Talk to your bank about putting POD (payable on death) or TOD (transfer on death) with someone else’s name so that the account goes to them automatically and doesn’t get tied up in probate.

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