Why Are We Unwelcome Here?
The main reason we came home was for the Thanksgiving holiday. When we arrived things seemed pretty much normal. For here, not the rest of the world. However, we did manage to make it to my families thanksgiving. By this time Beryl was no longer able to host such a multi-family event. Oh Yes... We have spent the last maybe 15 years celebrating the holiday here. But this year Beryl seemed happy to spend the holiday with people She barely knew. As long as there was fun, and, it was with family.
We were only planning to spend a couple of weeks here. Not a big burden we thought... And we knew we could always go and stay with my parents if it became intolerable. We were always under the impression that we were welcome. Now, slammed against a brick wall, we have no idea what happened here. No matter how it's approached there has clearly been nothing but deceit and maybe conspiracy. All of which seems aimed at us.
Towards the beginning of our stay Beryl had an 'accident'. It appears that, while nobody was monitoring the 'mirror', She twisted wrong fell down and injured Her hip and back. Fortunately the unwelcome guests were there to pick Her up, move Her to Her bedroom, and call for medical attention. Was She grateful. Sadly... The entire incident, of course, was our fault. And as things progressed...
Geez... I think you get the point. I don't need to embarrass myself anymore ranting and raving about an Old Lady who had a great life and a brave ending. I'm really not that angry. Just don't get me started...
Now... Due to circumstance... We are in control... Mostly damage control.
Unfortunately... By the time we got here. Things were in dismal array. Sadly... The Lieutenant, who thought, She was conquering the world, couldn't even manage Her own estate. Probably why She never made it to General. She really wasn't smart enough to make proper decisions and certainly unable to take advise from more knowledgeable subordinates. If She wasn't the most educated, or the most well traveled, in the crowd then she found a new crowd. And that's a pretty dull crowd. She always had to be the focal point of attention. Hmm... Kind of like Shauna. Wow... A scientific kanundrum. Environment vs. Genetics. What's your opinion?
Ok... The first thing we have to do is to get the financing back in order. It seems that Beryl has been trusting that Her finances are being 'properly' taken care of by Her 'friends' whom She has given complete discretionary control to. Apparently, after having their fill, they are no longer paying attention. The neighbor described the event as 'vultures hovering over a kill'. It wasn't all about the money. There were also Her possessions to be liberated.
We: Of course, were not informed about any of these 'goings on' until after the fact. A.K.A. Now. And we couldn't be more unprepared. It's not that we weren't paying attention. We Were. But... We see now that we were constantly deceived and lied to. Ugh!
Anyway... What we found was a line of credit, almost maxed out, and a small amount of cash in savings. The savings was a little more then the burden on the credit line.
What sucks the most is that Her 'friends' have left Her finances in such poor shape that She can't borrow a dime. Even though She owns a prime piece of real-estate. Her credit-cards have not been paid in several months and She has been deceived into believing that the interest payment on the line of credit is the interest She has earned. Not the interest She owes on the loan. So the line of credit has not been paid either. Except for Her Social Security benefit She is essentially broke.
Disturbingly... In order for the Lieutenant to continue the remainder of Her days in Her own home it is going to cost way more then She can afford.
The same 'friends' that tried to rob Her were also the ones who did the horrible sprinkler job. They had also registered themselves with the Old Lady's medical support as the 'only' next of 'kin' and had requested that any and all information regarding the Old Lady's health be delivered to them exclusively. If that isn't bad enough at one point they tried to get the Old Lady to sign over the title of Her house to them. In the end they did manage to liberate some family heirlooms that should have stayed in the family. Oh Well.
The most difficult part for us is that, although, we have assumed responsibility, it is not completely legal. And... The Attorney thinks we're up to shenanigans. Because... We don't want to (can't) spend the extra several thousand dollars (his estimate) to make it completely legal. Sadly... If the Attorney spent 5 minutes and visited his client, which we would have gladly paid for, then he would have backed us completely; In the interest of his client.
Why does this matter... We had previously told the Attorney that the Old Lady had become completely incompetent. That's how we gained the 'Power of Attorney' which allowed us to begin clearing this mess up. And that was absolutely true at the time. Well... Actually She had been technically incompetent for a while now but at the point we assumed control she was almost comatose. Even the 'vultures' backed off at this point. However: Because of our good care she recovered slightly. Enough at least to just barely sign papers. What's the point here. Oh yeah... In order to acquire a loan, on 'our' excellent credit, as being heirs, against her property, and because the trust hadn't been transfered (the cost thing again) She needed to also sign the documents. Our Attorney said 'if She's incompetent She can't sign' thus we needed to spend the several thousand dollars (which we don't have) to make it legal (money grab). When we went to see the Attorney over this matter we walked to his office. He was that close. But he 'never' came to 'his' clients house, 'In Her interest' (a term He liked to use but didn't practise) to see what was really going on. Instead he accused us of lying, misrepresentation, and generally being up to no good. I remember, at the start of all this, we asked him to call the bank to verify the paperwork. Oh yeah... We had legal but incomplete paperwork. The 'incomplete' was the money we couldn't spend to finalize it. Anyway... When we called the bank to check our status. The bank had nothing new to report. So of course; We called the Attorney to determine what happened only to find out that he was unwilling (refused) to talk to anyone who didn't speak English as a first language. In other words... He called the bank. Didn't like who he talked to. And now refuses to talk to the bank at all. What a jerk. Where's the 'interest of the client' here.
The bank however, which 'was' willing to do business, was happy to come to the Old Lady's house to verify that things were as we represented. As I remember the loan officers walked from the bank to this house. Beats rush hour traffic (all day in L.A. it can seem sometimes). Well... Now the banks legal department is satisfied with the situation the loan department needs only one more thing. An 'appraisal'.
At first glance the yard doesn't look too bad. The reality is that it used to be a wonderful garden. Now it looks more like a wasteland. The fences have not been maintained and are falling down, the hedges are over grown and dying, the lawn looks like crap even though...
At some point the 'Lieutenant' paid (a very generous fee) to have 'friends' install an automatic sprinkler system for the lawn and garden. Although it basically 'worked'. It was ineffective, and, as time would tell, improperly installed. In fact... The neighbor recalled that the 'couple' that did the work were in completely over their heads and did nothing but argue the whole time they were doing the job. Clearly motivated solely by the pay-out. At final sale, the 'irrigation system' was called out as being broken and sub-code. Ouch!
The rest of the house is in no great shape either. The waste lines are overrun by roots and are sub-code. There is still mostly the original (1920's) electrical. Fortunately... Recently... Of course without our advise... The original fuse box 'was' replaced with a modern breaker panel. That's a relief. It's a real shame though that the remaining wiring, in such a small house, was not updated with the main panel. With 'everything' in conduits it would have been trivial in cost to repair compared against the probable safety hazard (which still exists). The electrical is still in such poor (unsafe) condition an electrical inspector would never allow it.
Underneath the house is not so cheery either... It turns out that the house has only a perimeter foundation. That means that the interior load points are not on footing and foundation. Instead, they are on small piers, not acceptable by current building code.
The gas fired furnace is our main concern though... The exhaust (CO2) vent has completely rotted. Therefore: Harmful gasses 'may' exist. It does not matter that the space is otherwise well vented and no real hazard exists. It is a 'major' code violation. Also: Because of the location (Southern California) the heater is seldom used. Plus there is a lovely fireplace which, if used properly, contributes almost as much heat to the house as the furnace.
The plumbing is also just barely hanging in there and is falling apart in some places. Even though the plumbing was updated not to long ago it was not done correctly. There were several shortcuts that have now led to chronic, problematic, plumbing failures. If we were not able to fix these ourselves then we would be in for constant, recurring, maintenance costs.
There are also, leading up to both front and back doors, massive but unattached solid concrete steps. Unfortunately... The steps and the house have been settling in different directions for a very long time now leading to unpleasant separation between the doors and the casements. Not to mention that almost all the windows in the house have been replaced. Mostly by louvered windows which are now falling apart. Many of the rivets have failed and so most windows have one or more slats that no longer remain. The front door has this unwelcoming wrought iron, heavy metal screened, door reminiscent of a prison while the back windows have permanently bolted bars across them (code violation, no escape means). Sad thing is that these bars weren't put in placed to keep people out as much as they were to keep Shauna in. As a teen. Sadly... This place feels more like a prison 'compound' then a home. For us at least.
Bottom line is that this place doesn't look to good even though all of the damage is cosmetic and none of it structural. Now what are we going to do.