Thursday, May 17, 2007

Aunt Frieda and the Fall of Rome

Much, much stress in our family unit these days, because Aunt Frieda's real estate empire is crumbling around her.

Frieda likes to buy things, but does not like/does not know how to get rid of things. Like crappy little houses in small towns that no one wants to buy, and no one wants to rent for more than a month at a time once a year. She spreads herself way thin, paying tax on these empty properties, mowing their lawns, fixing their broken windows, installing sump pumps when the basements flood, and sprucing them up for new renters - who stay a month or two and then abscond without paying the remainder of their fees. And then it's not done: she'll track them down and garnishee their wages for her $250.00 owing. It drives me crazy.

In the last few years, Frieda has been using a wheelchair more and more to get around, and so can't do the mowing or glazing or wall-washing that she used to do herself (and in the early years with child labour (me and Auntie Bean)(no wonder I can replace and putty broken windows like a damn)). Beans and I have stepped back, because we can't be part of the craziness. It's too soul-destroying. Now she has to hire people she knows to do all of this for her. And yet the results are the same. Empty houses. Lots of work for naught. Needless stress.

Now, I don't think that seniors should sit at home and have nothing to do, but it might be nice if Aunt Frieda could see that she could be travelling more, visiting people more, etc. if she didn't spend all her time and money keeping her crack-house empire running. But she doesn't see it this way.

And now it's starting to affect me, Beans, and the family too. A number of years ago, when I was young and stupid, Aunt Frieda talked me and Beans into putting our names on all her properties as joint owners. Her reasoning was that when she dies someday, we will immediately own these properties and can bypass probate fees. Sounds great, until Frieda ages and starts to run out of money to pay all her bills.

That's where we're at. Her heat just got cut off recently because she owes a significant amount of money to the utility, and if she doesn't pay it soon, they will be sending the bill to a collection agency. And my name and Beans's name are on the property title. So whom do you think the collection agency will start to pester for that cash? Yup, anyone on the title. Like me.

Frieda says not to worry. It will all get taken care of very soon and will not come to that. My lawyer says it's a good idea to get my name and Beans's name off the titles of Frieda's properties. The catch: all the joint owners have to agree to make this change - Frieda needs to agree.

And she doesn't agree. So here we sit. Waiting for the sword of Damocles to kong us on the bean. Or the fates to decide.

It's a cautionary tale.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your Frieda stories! It is like reading a work of fiction - hard to believe she actually exists.


12:35 pm  
Blogger Eileen said...

Oh, but she does. She. does. sigh.

Auntie Beans

10:01 pm  

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