So how were we going to get that equity line extended? Joan didn’t seem to have the mental wherewithal to do it, and yet she showed no signs whatsoever of being inclined to relinquish her control over her assets. So I set about getting her declared mentally incompetent. This was not so easy.
First I decided to contact the lawyer that had drawn up the Tingle Family Trust back in 2000, I think it was. She said that she understood the situation being familiar with such situations as a practitioner of family law. I had, she said, according to the terms of the trust to get two doctors to say Joan was not up to snuff mentally. Honestly, I didn’t know if she was up to snuff mentally or not. I didn’t want to force the issue. One doctor had already given her some little test and he said she was sane. She knew where she was and the date and everything. But the people where she was staying at that time seemed to believe that she was out of it.
I called and called and finally found out the day and the times of the visits that the doctor for that place was there. The one responsible for Joan. He was Dr. Lee, I do believe, and when I was finally able to get him on the phone, he said Joan was out of it and that he would sign a letter to that effect. I said thank you and could he get another doctor to sign a letter to that effect also. He said he would try. I still don’t know what the big deal was; maybe it was something legal. But I didn’t hear back and I had to call a couple times more, and finally he said he had the signature of another doctor. With those documents in hand, I could drive down to the lawyer in Escondido and have Joan declared incompetent and by the terms of the Tingle Family Trust I would then be able to get the equity line extended with the overall goal of selling the house.
As soon as I got the doctor letter in the mail I thought there was a problem because it was one doctor letter with two doctors’ names on it, and not two letters each with a different name on it. It just didn’t look right. One name was where it should be and the other was just scrawled down at the bottom of the page. But the lawyer said she thought it might do, so we made an appointment and drove down to Escondido to get Joan declared mentally incompetent.
As soon as I showed her the doctor’s letter, she indicated she was willing to accept it for the purposes of her paperwork but she was afraid no bank would accept it. Honestly, I didn’t know at that time what the hell the bank had to do with it. I thought if I had a legal letter from a lawyer a bank would accept that, but apparently not. I started feeling pretty gloomy, but then the lawyer ask if we knew Joan’s mental state, and I said that we had just seen her not twenty minutes before coming to the lawyer and that she had been alert and knew who we were and had even talked with us cogently for a few minutes. So the lawyer said, if that was the case, then we should all get in her car and drive back to the place where Joan was and get Joan, being of sound mind and all that, to sign the paper saying I was the financial executor of her estate.
All this was damn confusing. I mean here I was with a letter signed by two doctors saying Joan was too out of it to know what she was doing, and here was the lawyer saying maybe Joan was sane enough to sign off on the Trust. So we drove back to where Joan was and the lawyer and Carol and I sat there with Joan, and I told Joan that I wanted her to sign right here on this piece of paper—and I pointed to the line—and that unless she did that I would not be able to assume responsibility for her finances. This I said, needed to be done, since she, Joan, didn’t seem up to it and I mentioned some things like her forgetting to pay bills. She said she didn’t forget bills. And I said, fine, but if she wanted her finances taken care of she needed to sign this document. She took the pen in hand and gave me a real long look. I wasn’t sure what that look meant. But I think I saw some fear. After all, Joan doesn’t trust anybody. Why should she, being the kind of untrustworthy person she was, willing to write her most helpful son out of a will just because she didn’t get her way.
I said, “I will take care of it.” And rapped my knuckles on the table as I sometimes do when I want to make a point or seal the deal. So she took the pen and made her mark. She took a while doing it since she takes great pride in her penmanship, and I must say, while a little shaky, the signature was clearly hers and fully legible.
The picture shows the Delridge house in its early stages. You can see the slab and behind that some of the 10,000 adobe block WB made, and beyond that you can see the hills show few signs of habitation because when Joan and WB moved there in the early 80’s there were very few people out that way.