July 4, 2005

The Law of Rules

Category: Alzheimers,family,Personal — @ 6:54 pm

I have been in PR for nearly two weeks now and it feels like I have accomplished only 3 days worth of motherly errands. In fact, except for Sundays, I have been going nearly non- stop with her, and dealing with her affairs. It is just that things take a little longer here and more so over the summer when the heat is inescapable. I forgot what it was like to live, breathe, and generally move around in soaring temperatures. Actually when you are on the beach, it is delectable, because the only so slightly cool ocean waters vindicate the heat, entirely.

Otherwise, I languish. I think I languish more because I have been thrust into a role that seems somewhat foreign to me: adulthood. I guess I have long been on the path toward that enigmatic place we call adulthood: I got my drivers license at 16, at 18 I could legally drink in PR, I left home when I was 17, started to pay my own taxes when I was 21, now actually sort of understand my taxes, and so forth… I have reached my 30s. But the student way of life feels only at the cusp of adulthood, as if you put it on hold to pursue your personal desires, staying away from those signs and practices that place you firmly in adulthood, such as taking care of others.

But now as I take over my mom’s affairs, and her financial world, I am having to play some serious catch up to things adult: wills, taxes, funerals etc. It is a little overwhelming, and almost entirely unpleasant especially since my mom can sort of understand what is going on, but also sort of not. I try to make decisions that are right and explain them to her but there are times she just does not fully get it (although there have been times when she has given me crucial pieces of legal info out of the blue).

One of the larger current projects is re-doing her will because as the current one stands, there are some ambiguities that can cause us a huge, no gargantuan headache later on. So now, we are making a new will which will include a trust for my sister (who is not all that financially responsible) and this apparently is a huge headache to do. Ok, it would not be so bad if I lived here but I don’t. So I have meet with the lawyer a number of times, hammered out the basic details, and will have to coordinate the rest from Chicago/NJ and return in August for the signing. Since my mom can’t see well, we have to get five witnesses to proceed over the signing. The whole thing is a huge source of anxiety for me partially because I have to coordinate it, partially because the law seems so flagrantly obscure and obtuse (PR is also under Napoleonic code) and also it costs a lot of money. Legal services in general tend to cost more in PR, which is why there are a lot of really really wealthy lawyers in PR who drive some really nice houses, dine on fine food, and reside in luxurious homes, but I guess that is most places :-)

It seems like at least every third person in PR is a lawyer and they have created a system in which they are necessary simply to avoid disaster. Much of the western “liberal” world is such (so much for legal freedom) and ss our lawyer said, “we don’t live under the rule of the law but the law of rules.”

So true…

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