I bade farewell to my father Stan The Man just over a week ago.
He had a good innings – 90 years and a bit on top – so I cannot complain, although his longevity does not quell the pain caused by loss. Especially for my mother who devoted her life to Stanley and her family.
In the last three years of his life, she was a full-time carer, assisted on occasion by a wonderful GP and at the bitter end by the professionalism of all those who work on Ward 9 of the Richard Salt Unit at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. Of course the family (four siblings) gave their unstinting support although three of us have long fled Birmingham, despite the attractions of the New Bullring.
While the grief still persists (and will never fully leave until my dying day) the funeral (a tribute) and wake (more laughter than tears) have not drawn a line in the sand concerning all matters Stanley.
Ever since he died, I have been trawling through Mum and Dad’s finances in an attempt to ensure Mum can continue with her life relatively free of financial worry or disruption.
So far, it has been a relatively straightforward exercise. Death benefit on a small industrial branch policy with Royal Liver (now Royal London) has been successfully claimed while Mum is waiting for a funeral expenses plan with Sun Life to pay up so she can offset a chunk of the funeral costs.
Attendance allowance has been duly cancelled as has Dad’s state pension. My mother is now awaiting a 25 per cent discount on her council tax bill while – touch wood – their joint account with NatWest has been amended to recognise dad’s passing (thank you Gary Hall at NatWest in London’s Kensington for your help).
A big help has been the Tell Us Once death notification service, which has transmitted details of Dad’s death to an array of government organisations and local council services. The Bereavement Register should also stop my mother receiving upsetting direct mailshots addressed to my father imploring him to take out equity release, a variety of insurances or consume a panoply of life enhancing drugs.
Mum has even taken it upon herself to ring up British Gas and get her electricity and gas direct debits reduced (the staff were terribly helpful). Only Sky, the provider of her broadband and phone, remains unconquered.
Among all the paperwork is one jewel in the Prestridge crown, a pension annuity with Aviva. My father took it out in his mid to late 60s as he moved from salesman extraordinaire in the rag trade to full-time gardener, climbing trees as if he were Jungle Book’s Mowgli.
The annuity was taken out only after he sought advice from Alan Steel of Linlithgow-based financial adviser Alan Steel Asset Management. That advice saw Mum and Dad take a trip up to Linlithgow to chew over the pension cud with Alan over the odd glass or two of Rioja.