The Repo Man and Me or Life’s Lessons Learned

In my former life I was a married-stay-at-home-mom, who rarely worried about our family’s finances.  To be honest, money talk bored me silly. I was quite content to let Mike, who was a Tax CPA,  manage our finances, worry about legalities, and to purchase our vehicles.  Repo Man Land was not a place I ever thought I would visit.

My safe little world blew up last July when I suddenly found myself a widow.  As the shock wore off, I quickly realized I alone had stewardship over four underage kids and one young adult. Tex, my oldest, had just returned from his mission and was soon to be, but not quite self-sufficient. Before the funeral week was over, I hit the ground running.  With help from my brother-in-law, I managed to get into our online  banking  to get a clear picture of what I had to work with. Thankfully our debt load was light, but we did have two car loan payments; on a Ford SUV (mine) and an Accura (his). I also  began the task of  changing banking and bill accounts into my name.

True humanity  manifests itself when tragedy occurs. In the weeks after Mike’s death, overwhelming grief was my constant companion. I was assisted by many earthly angels. I am thankful for my  extended family for helping me thru a very tough time. I am grateful for my ward family who helped with my children, with yard work  and provided our family with food. I am grateful for the generosity of the  manager of  a storage unit Mike  had rented from, who tore up the monthly contract he had with them and refunded me the unused portion.  I am grateful to the Accura dealership who so kindly  bought back Mike’s new vehicle, so I could get a less expensive car for Tex.  I am especially grateful to a local Heating and Air company who installed a brand  new air conditioning unit during the hottest week of last  July; with nothing down and waited a couple of months until I had the money to pay the unit off in full.

With goodness comes opposition, and the devil (as we all know) likes to rear his ugly  head. In this case, the devil took the form of a certain loan company, Mike had used to finance my SUV.  Mike’s name was the only one on both vehicles. Shortly after the funeral, I wrote the loan company who held the SUV a letter informing them of Mike’s death. I requested they change the loan balance over to me and asked them to send me a monthly bill, as I was closing out the shared bank account.  I instead received a scathing letter informing me the account  was now frozen and they were taking steps to repossess my vehicle. I was completely floored, we had never missed a payment on that vehicle. After repeated tries, I finally was able to speak to a representative of the company. I told them I wanted to keep paying the monthly payment and in a few months I would pay off the loan in full. The representative  told me they would not accept payments from me, and I had ten days to either pay off the loan or they would repossess the car. They told me the car was not mine as my name was not on the loan. I spoke with a supervisor who told me the very same thing, pay up now or have it repossessed.  The Repo Man begun to call and send letters. With no other recourse, my father bought me a used van ( I paid him off a few months later), I called the repo man who came and picked up my SUV.

Later the Devil, aka loan company, filed a suit against me.  They sold the SUV for less than what was owed, so they sued me for the balance of the  loan.  Last week, my case finally came to court. I am happy to report, I WON. The judge ruled in my favor, because we had  never missed a payment and I had tried to  continue making payments with the promise to pay off the loan. The judge ruled that the loan company acted “unreasonably”.  It was my supreme “stick it to the man” moment.

Now the reason I am sharing with you all is; during the last year I have gained practical information that you, dear reader, hopefully will not need in the near future.  As unpleasant as the subject is, we all will pass on and it is easier for our survivors if we have taken care of them in advance. So here is my list of  important things to consider in the unfortunate event of a death. If you, dear reader,  have additional advice please feel free to share your wisdom with the rest of us.

Life’s  lessons learned

Most importantly, fInd out about the death laws in your state. The law varies from state to state. Decide before hand, if you need a will, a trust, or both.    Organize important documents such as birth, marriage, adoption, social security cards, and have them readily available. Keep a record of  pin numbers, passwords etc..  in a secure spot.  If you already have an attorney, accountant, or financial planner, include this information also in a secure spot.

Have a life insurance policy. Peace of mind is a valuable thing. Even with insurance, you will still need several thousand on hand as  insurance companies can take months to send a check. You will need readily accessible funds to live off of until the check arrives.

Open a spare checking account with both your names on it. Keep it open for a year after death  to cash unexpected checks that  may come your way. Other wise the checks end up in probate.

Dying is expensive. It is  necessary to have several thousand dollars readily available to pay for the funeral and burial.

Have the decision already made as to where you want to be buried and where and what kind of service you want.  You also might want to consider not having a funeral at the church if you have young children. They will have flashbacks to the funeral. Do you want flashbacks to  happen every week at church?

If at a later date, you relocate elsewhere, your deceased loved one can be transported and re-interred at another cemetery.

Unless you know you have death benefits on loans, do not  divulge your situation to creditors unless necessary. They will not take pity on you, but instead will go after you when you are most vulnerable. Trust me, you do not need the added stress.

In case of death of a working spouse, as soon as possible, make an appointment with Social Security. The Social Security representative I met with was courteous and kind. My  payments  began about three weeks after my  appointment.  You will need money to live off of until the payments begin. So far, I have only wonderful things to say  about the Social Security System.

Do not make any sudden decisions for at least 6 months.

and last, but not least …

Hire a kick-butt attorney.

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

15 thoughts on “The Repo Man and Me or Life’s Lessons Learned

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention » The Repo Man and Me or Life’s Lessons Learned The Millennial Star -- Topsy.com

  2. I am SO happy to hear that you won your battle with the lender. That is awesome!!!

    I admire your courage and determination in the face of trial and adversity. Thank you for sharing your story, JA.

  3. Way tough situation, but thanks for
    sharing; a definite reminder to get
    my house in order.

    The lord bless over the next year finding
    your way through new territory.

  4. Ha! That last bit is very true. Glad you won your case—that loan company’s behavior was reprehensible. And that is all very good advice, though I’m sorry you had to learn it the hard way.

    I want to add an additional piece of advice. Most folks reading this are denizens of the internet, and probably have a lot of data, photos, or creative works stored online. Make sure you have your online account information stored in hard copy in a secure location, so that in the event of your death or incapacitation, your loved ones can retrieve those photos, access those bank accounts, and if necessary, inform your online friends of your passing.

  5. Thanks Brian and Comet. Good additional advice Peter. THe scary thing about the lender company is this was not a “mistake” by some overzealous employee. They have a system set up to get what they can out of you when you are in a vulnerable state. Most people will cave just to get the lender off their case. Instead, something just snapped in me to the tune of Twisted Sister’s rock anthem “Were Not Gonna Take It”

  6. I can’t believe what a**holes they are! so happy it’s all over for you!

    One more piece of advice I have. My brother lost his wife 6 years ago and left him with 4 young children. They only had a small life insurance out on her since she stayed-at-home and a big one out on him…he suggests that BOTH gets at least a million life insurance because he said he wished he would have had the option of staying-at-home at least for a while to help them all get situated and adjusted to life after loosing their wife and mom.

  7. Thanks Ben, you are right. It is what it is, and you all might as well learn form my experience.
    Thanks Uncle Nette for the additional advice. You are right, you can’t underestimate the worth of a stay at home mom.

    PS I received an application in the mail yesterday for a credit card from YOU KNOW WHO !!! Shedder fodder that one.

  8. Please provide the name of the lender as well as the name of the supervisor who abused your vulnerable situation as that help us to avoid that lender and it would be a very deserved consequence for that shameful supervisor.

  9. John F- thanks for stopping by to comment. I do not want them to come after me again. THis was NOT the mistake of an overzealous employee. They have a department and a system set up to go after you in your most vulnerable state to recoup any losses that may occur. THe letters came from the office of a corporate VP. THe judge said she has had other cases from this particular lender ( amazing cause we live in a small town), and they did the very same thing. Same rude threatening phone calls and letters etc..

    Email me privately at jabensonatmillennialstardotorg if you need to know the lender.

  10. Mrs Benson, I owned a large repo company that covered an entire state, my company was started on a shoe string and I sold it after 30 years of
    dealing with all types of lenders from a mom and pop dealership to the largest lenders in the USA. I am not at all surprised to
    read your situation with a lender that would act and treat you like this. Keep in mind it is all about the money and you are not
    looked at as human, you are looked at as a statistic. (really) Always keep receipts, any company that comes after your car again
    and you are not in default, do not argue, give them the keys, clean it out, be nice, ask for a copy of the repo order from the lender
    and even offer to stop by their office for it, (be kind). Once you have a copy of it, LET THE DOGS LOOSE ON THE LENDER. Do not accept
    the car back when they realize they have made a mistake. They will try to give it back. That is when you tell them the name of your
    attorney and phone number to deal with him. You will win big. Juries hate lenders normally. I am sorry for your loss and you are
    right on the money about having your affairs ready to deal with a death of a spouse or family member. I hope you were compensated
    by the lenders insurance company for a WRONGFUL REPOSSESSION. The best to you

  11. Thank you Danny for your valuable insight and advice. We appreciate your taking the time to comment.

    I was not compensation for wrongful possession. At the time, I was just glad i did not have to pay them $5,000. I did pay a bunch to the attorney to represent me. At some point, it became the principle of the matter.

    My actual dealings with the Repo Man was pleasant. I was mad and spitting nails; my Brother-the-Cop reminded me the Repo Man was just a guy doing his job. We gave the Repo company the SUV in immaculate condition. The Repo Man came to my house to pick the vehicle up. One of my older boys handed him the keys and it was a pleasant exchange.

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