Friday, April 20, 2007

We’re From the Government. We’re Here To Help You

Here’s a head-shaking moment courtesy of government bureaucracy.
I’m waiting for a call back from the Public Trustee’s office. I like to think I won’t be waiting long to clear up this matter, but the government’s pace can be glacial.

A few years ago my Uncle Reynold died in government care. He’d been a ward of the Province for most, if not all, of his adult life.
Consequently his government cheques such as AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped) were banked.

A few month ago my dad was advised that everything was sorted out as to who gets how much and that cheques were to be sent out.
Shortly after finding this out my dad passed away. Logically, the simplest and easiest thing to do is make dad’s cheque out to his estate.

But this is the government and logic is a stranger in a strange land.

I asked the Public Trustee’s office back in January what they needed from me in order to get Uncle Reynolds’ money released.
The fellow I spoke with said I needed to send him a copy of the probate.
But probate wasn’t necessary in my dad’s case.

The fellow didn’t have a response for that so he said he’d get back to me.
Yesterday I received a letter from the Public Trustee’s office advising me that I needed to send along a copy of the Grant of Probate.

I’m sure this fellow is just following the rules.
He’s probably forgotten that I said there was no probate.

I’m sure this can be handled simply and efficiently, but for now I’m just going to shake my head.


Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Ah, yes. *sigh* I work for a state university, so I understand what you're going through.

On the one hand, bureaucracies are achingly fair. They put everyone through the same hell. And once you hit the right combination (which is the same for everyone), the lock WILL spring open.

But getting to that point...

Oh, my.

A few tips:

1. Never waste your time getting mad at Flunky #1. S/he has nothing whatsoever to do with the Byzantine rules that are keeping you from your goal.

2. Getting frustrated with Flunky #2 will rarely help, either, for the same reason.

3. Useful Phrase #1: "I see. So what do I have to do to make this happen?"

4. Useful Phrase #2: "I understand. Is there someone else I can talk to about this?"

5. Whenever possible, get a name and try to make the person your ally. Everyone has a boss, and if you keep going high enough, you'll eventually reach someone who knows the answer or who can bend a rule. The quickest way to find this person is to be nice and keep repeating Useful Phrases 1 and 2. In a pinch, you can add Ass-Kissing Phrase #1: "I know you don't make the rules, but..."

6. NEVER piss off a flunky. They'll just make it that much harder to reach the person you REALLY need to talk to!

7. Remember that even those of us who work in these organizations have to follow these rules, so no one is exempt. I'm a middle manager, and I still have to go through steps 1 through 5 if I'm dealing with a campus entity where I don't already have a connection high enough to get me past the first or second round of minions.

And speaking of connections, get names and drop them whenever and wherever you can!!! Your chances are greatly improved when you say, "I just got off the phone with Mary Jones, and she said you're the person who can help me..."

Good luck!

Leah J. Utas said...

Many thanks, bunnygirl.

I think "useful phrase #1" is destined for quite a workout.

Crabby McSlacker said...

You both are so restrained and reasonable in your approach to dealing with bureaucracy--I like that!

Even when confronted with a frustrating situation where some cluelessness is obviously happening at some level, neither of you are advocating throwing tantrums and threatening lawsuits etc.

Good luck on sorting it all out.

And Bunnygirl, I think you have some excellent advice there, both in terms of diplomacy and persistence.

Michael said...

Yes, bureaucracies can be painfully frustrating, but they serve their purposes. Banks, on the other hand, are just evil.


Moby Dick said...

To my understanding, you have to open an estate when you are receiving funds, and then a judge has to decide who receives them. It is called a simple estate, or it may have another name in your jurisdiction. It is not complicated, and it probably only requires a couple of forms. You should visit your local court and ask them to help you or the forms may be online. I believe you can do most if not all of the process by mail. Good luck to you in resolving the issues, and condolences on your losses.

Leah J. Utas said...

Thanks for the info Spider63.
You're absolutely right Michael.
And thank you Crabby. It's always a pleasure to read you.

Dawn said...

Dealing with any government department is exactly the same here in New Zealand, I promise you, so don't think you can escape it all by immigrating! The only possible point of difference is we might sing to you in Maori while we irritate you!

Unknown said...

Ah, beauacracy. I will join you in a head shake.

Good luck sorting it out!