I received this in the mail a few days ago from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Motor Vehicles:
“Our records reflect that your vehicle registration expires in April, 2013. DMV is unable to renew this registration because our records indicate the owner is deceased.
“Because we too have lost loved ones, DMV wants to provide you with the necessary tools to settle the vehicle record of your family member or friend. Virginia law requires that the vehicle be titled and registered in the name of the person who will now own the vehicle. Enclosed is the ‘DMV Guide to Family Members and Friends of Recently Deceased.’ This informal sheet provides instructions on how to re-title the vehicle in a different name…”
The letter went on and advised how to cancel a driver’s license, disabled placard, or set of license plates, too. I don’t know about you but I appreciated the tone and helpfulness of the letter. I had already taken care of Regina’s driver’s license and disabled placard, but I had not yet worked on the joint ownership title of the green car. I followed directions as best I could and went down to the DMV in Stafford yesterday to take care of, I was hoping, about the last tangible property item that we had jointly owned.
Like any DMV visit, I was probably tenth in a line but the line moved quickly and the information person listened to what I was wanting to get taken care of. She offered condolences and proceeded to highlight several blocks on the car’s title that I needed to fill out. She gave me a number for the next available window.
In not too many minutes and after I had filled out the appropriate boxes on the title, I was called up to Window #6. I showed the lady what I had with me and explained what I believed I needed to do to get this transaction underway. She looked through my paperwork and then asked for Regina’s Death Certificate. I had thought I might need one so I gave the window lady an original. She looked it over and also expressed her condolences. She then asked if I had a Will and if I was the executor. I told her that I did have a Will but that I had not brought it with me. She explained that she really needed to see the Will in order to complete this action. I told her that I would need to go home and get it – she said to do so and then come right back to her window. “Don’t stand in line again.” I thanked her as best I could and went home to get the Will. I wish I had thought that I might need it but had not.
Regina and I had worked up our Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Last Will and Testaments back in the Spring of 2012. In hindsight, it is good that we had done this and it was and is a blessing that this is all in order and fully functional. We, of course, were not wanting to think about eventualities and tried to take care of the paperwork as a normal order of personal business. But last Spring was unlike any other time in that she had been in and out of hospitals and back and forth with doctors much more than normal. Something serious was going on and we both sensed it and hoped that we would get through it and be prepared for whatever was to come.
All of the paperwork – as I looked at it yesterday – was dated May 5, 2012. We had invited Jamie and Clayton over to the house one afternoon to serve as signature witnesses and had arranged for a Notary Public to be with us at the house – Regina couldn’t get out – and formalize the documents. After about an hour of signatures and uneasy, nervous conversation, we were all done and the documents were in full force. Who would have known what was to come?
Since our signing day, I have used all three documents for various purposes and reasons. I did some banking when Regina was still with us and the Power of Attorney let me make some changes to our joint accounts without her signature. When Regina was admitted to the Stafford Hospital, Potomac Hospital, and the Washington Hospital Center (WHC) last year, the staffs all asked to make copies of her Living Will for their files. And later, several provisions of her Living Will took effect at WHC – I felt very thankful and calm knowing that she and I had already worked out the really hard life and death decisions. We were able to act on her wishes and intents. And yesterday, DMV looked through Regina’s Final Will and Testament and was satisfied that I had full authority to represent Regina in property matters having to do with her green car.
DMV made copies of her Death Certificate and Will and gave me back the originals. With a few more signatures, a new title was issued to me in my name only. I had accomplished what I had set out to do.
I will admit – having to come home and pick up the Will was hard. Looking through the Will was hard, too. All of the things that we had talked about – now in place. But thankfully without any glitches.
It was hard to do this at DMV. Normally a cold and tough place, I have been to the local DMV twice to deal with Regina matters and both times, I don’t think the people could have been much kinder. Thanks to the people and management at the local facility for your patience.
And I’m thankful that God had led Regina and me to do some pre-planning in spite of not wanting to think about what might happen. Today, it brings comfort to me to know that I will not have to deal with property and other issues thanks to the paperwork that we have in force.
And due to God’s wisdom and care of two very tired and confused people a year ago.